Delhi-based Alaknanda Dasgupta, who has been practising Kathak for 45 years, picked up gender bias as the topic for her performance on August 09 as part of an ongoing 15-day festival titled Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. The festival celebrating 75 years of Indian Independence, began on July 31, and will continue till August 14.
Dasgupta says, “In India, we worship women as a devi, but the reality is something else. My 35-minute performance will start with ‘O ri Chiraiya, Nanhi si Gudiya Angana Mein a Jana re’ that is about a woman who gets educated, but does not get her rights. We don’t accept dowry, but we want a working daughter-in-law. This is hypocrisy. Through my dance, I will ask this question, ‘are the women of India really free mentally, emotionally and psychologically?”
Other performances are by her disciples Aditi Bahi, Nandini Khattar, Kishika Mahajan, Isha Bhatia, Vitasta Sar, and Archi Saxena, who will present the Devi Stuti, exploring the powers of women, forwarding it to teen taal (a 16-beat cycle). “It is weaved into thumri [a vocal genre in Indian music], and will end with a tarana [a type of composition] in Raag Darbari,” adds Dasgupta.
Working around the idea of freedom, Delhi-based Punita Sharma, 40, a disciple of Pandit Jaikishan Maharaj, a Kathak exponent since 35 years, will present a 45-minute production Rang De Kesariya with her troupe on August 03. “It will connect the colours of our national flag and with tri devs (gods), and in times of Corona, the gods are our farmers, doctors and common people who fought two waves of corona. Freedom of the mind is of utmost importance. If anyone wants to free oneself, one moves to music and dance. The motto of this programme is that it’s been 75 years since India got independence, but how independent is our inner self?” adds Sharma.
On conceptualising the event, Kathak Kendra Director and Deputy Secretary (Drama), Sangeet Natak Akademi, Delhi, Suman Kumar says, “Sangeet Natak Akademi has done online streaming of shows since 2014, so this was not a difficult task. As a national academy, it’s our responsibility to find ways to showcase several artistes and their presentations. Though the artistes are performing from our auditorium at Kathak Kendra, we are maintaining all safety norms.”
The festival will see performances by renowned artistes such as Abhimanyu Lal, Jai Kishan Maharaj, Pankaj Rawat, Swati Sinha, Padma Shri Shovana Narayan, Neelam Choudhary, Deepak Maharaji, and budding artists such as Pankaj Rawat, Aarav Anand, Tanvi Sisodia, Minhaz Khan, and Sangeet Gangani. It is being live streamed from Swami Vivekananda Sabhagar, Kathak Kendra, Delhi, 11:00am onwards every day, and people can watch it on Sangeet Natak Akademi and Kathak Kendra’s Facebook Page and YouTube Channel.