A Million Sitas, a dance production by renowned dancer Anita Ratnam, has been witnessed by people near and far. A glance at few of the characters in the Ramayana, including Sita were presented by her, at Collage, a boutique on Greams Road recently.Presenting fashion through art, Anita wore the clothes designed by Tarun Tahiliani at her performance.
Wearing a coral skirt with a traditional printed jacket, Anita said at the beginning of her performance, “This skirt that I use as the common garment for all my costumes in the performance represents folk, it’s informal, cheerful and slightly flirty. This elegant skirt became the corner stone of an entire wardrobe for A Million Sitas.”
The event marked her 10 years of friendship with Latha Madhu of Collage and her 50th dance performance.
The tale started off at Sita’s swayamvar where she introduced two creative installations by an artist in Kolkata. The two were Rama, the simple prince of Ayodhya and Ravana whom she described as a mighty ambitious musician, bhakth of Shiva, lover of beauty and the emperor of Lanka. She referred to the women in the court of Mythila as ‘beautiful’ in a glittering array of colours, drapes, fabrics, material, and embroidery. Anita proceeded with the story of the swayamvar and how Rama succeeded.
Then, entered Sita. She was disapproved of by her mother-in-law for her simple clothes. Here, while Anita changed from her simple jewellery to expensive stones, many of Tarun’s clothes were brought and presented to both Sita and the spectators. “Each one more magnificent then the other. Such colours, such textures...” Sita said.
Also portrayed was the tale of Manthara, and how she was told to complicate things by the gods above, so that the world would get an epic story. Transformed from a beautiful butterfly to an ugly, hunchbacked woman, Anita (as Manthara) dressed herself in a faded dupatta, the same skirt that looked just right and with a basket as a prop for a hunchback.
Another highlight of the performance was when the dancer transformed into Ravana’s wife, Mandodari, and with priceless expressions, presented a change in temper of the tale. She was dressed in black palazzos, black jacket and with long, artificial nails.
Starkly in contrast to this look, the final scene sees Sita dressed in bridal wear, a green sari and a generous layering of jewellery adorned on her neck and fingers. She made her way to Rama who said that he had no need for her anymore and that she was free.
“This epic tale carries Rama’s name but it is my presence that gives life,” said Anitha, as she walked around with a great glass bowl with a lamp inside, her powerful voice booming through the speakers. “I will be imagined, remembered and invoked through time as nature, Kali, wife, sister and daughter. Each time a woman faces the test of fire, I will be remembered. Every time a woman crosses the line of control, I will re-appear. I am Sita and so are you all. We are a million sitas…a million Sitas.”