Geeta Chandran, famous danseuse, and her daughter Sharanya are alike in many aspects. Learning Bharatnatyam came naturally to both. But, while Geeta started learning Bharatanatyam when she was five, Sharanya began even earlier, at two. “Dance was never thrust upon her. The home environment was such that she could not have escaped it. Of the 24 hours, at least 16 are, even now, spent with music and dance,” says Geeta who, Sharanya feels, has been a difficult guru to please.
“I have had my share of scolding, be it for arriving late for a class, or not reaching the expectation levels she has from me. But on the other side, she has given me the space to openly brainstorm and it has never been that ‘I’m your mom or I’m your guru so you have to do this or do that’,” avers Sharanya. So, have there been arguments or fights over bhavas or mudras when they dance together?
“Never. We have a dialogue where we explore newer things. We equally respect each other’s suggestions and then juxtapose to see how they look,” says Geeta. “When Sharanya is performing solo, I watch her like a hawk and craft the moves for her with ones that suit her body. Tradition needs to be customised.”
The mother-daughter duo not only dance together but also share similar interests and hobbies. They both love travelling, being amid nature, visiting museums and above all, shopping. “Even if we’ve an hour with us, we rush to shop,” says Sharanya.
One thing on which they differ with each other is their preference for colours. Geeta prefers rich red hues and Sharanya, the pale blues. Maybe because Sharanya has always seen only reds and oranges around, be it as an attire on her mom, or the décor at her home! One concern that both Geeta Chandran and daughter Sharanya have this International Women’s Day is the safety and security of women across the country. And, that too, not only in public spaces but also at homes and in offices, where they face physical and psychological pressures 24x7.
The duo feel the need of the hour is to change the mindset, especially of the mothers of male children. “They must educate their sons to respect women and get educated themselves so that they get beyond thinking they need to trouble their daughter-in-law for they were once abused by their ma-in-law,” says Geeta. Agrees Sharanya, but asks, “Why are a woman and a man treated differently in the first place? Why, even after so much advancement — socially and technologically — the condition still persists. Why is there struggle for women at every step? Most importantly, is education really empowering us?”
—Rajkumari Sharma Tankha