Caged thoughts

Bharatanatyam Danseuse Savitha Sastry’s next production looks at the equilibrium between life and death
A still from the production.
A still from the production.

BENGALURU: Soul Cages, a set of dance shorts, starring Savitha Sastry and written and directed by AK Srikanth, explores the equilibrium between life and death. The story questions the concept of heaven when one loses a loved one.

The main character of the story passes on and goes to ‘heaven’ as is believed, but then realises that heaven does not feel the same in the absence of people close to the protagonist. As the story progresses, the person starts bringing up people he loves from Earth. “That’s where it gets really dark,” says Srikanth. Decoding the title, he further adds, “The concept of the title comes from the fact that a soul is supposed to be free after it leaves the body, but if you’re in the absence of loved ones, then you just moved from the cage of the body to a cage of another kind.”

The shorts are inspired by a stage production of the same name that came out in 2012. “There, we were looking at a story that was not based on mythology or religion but through the medium of Bharatanatyam. It was quite revolutionary 12 years ago, because most of what you could see as classical dance was steeped in religion or mythology,” recalls Srikanth, adding that the first show was in New Delhi and then went on to do almost 150 shows, in over 14 countries.

However, the story of this set of shorts, released on April 6 on Sastry’s YouTube channel, is totally different from the stage production. “It delves into the same concept about life and death as an equilibrium, but with a different storyline,” Sriknath emphasises.

Sastry, who plays the protagonist, says the film has a deeper concept and the dancer in her helped her express it. Apart from Sastry, the film has theatre actors and also features actor Rupesh Tillu who was in the Daisy Ridley and Naomi Watts starrer movie Ophelia (2019) and the critically-acclaimed movie Ship of Theseus (2013). Srikanth recalls watching Tillu in one of his plays and being moved by his acting then. “His acting in that play stayed with us. When we were making this film, we reached out to him through social media and that’s how it all started,” says Srikanth.

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The New Indian Express