When gods come alive
India is known the world over for its rich culture and tradition. The West recognises us as the Land of Gods. Indian mythology has thousands of gods and millions of saints and through the medium of dance, we Indians portray their life stories. Such dance ballets have been happening in India for over five decades. And one person who is responsible for giving the ‘godly stories’ a glamour angle is Bollywood dream girl, the graceful and elegant Hema Malini.
For more than 20 years now, she has been instrumental in bringing different mythological characters alive through her dance ballet. Be it Meera, Durga, Krishna-Radha Raas, Draupadi and Shiva-Parvati, Hema Malini has done it all. Following her footsteps have been actresses like Jaya Prada, Gracy Singh and Sharbani Mukherjee who have danced their way into our hearts with dance ballets like Amrapali and Radhika.
You all know me for my Latin American and Ballroom dance forms but somewhere deep within, I have always had the desire to learn Indian classical forms, just that during my growing up days in Europe I had no opportunity to learn Indian forms. So today my hunger for it is more. This same thirst has made me an avid follower of all the Indian mythological dance ballets by these Bollywood beauties.
These dance ballets have everything possible — extravagant costumes, beautiful sets that make the stage look like heaven, hundreds of graceful dancers, an amazing blend of Indian classical dance form in a story format for non-dancers to understand and the ever-glamorous actresses who portray their characters so aptly. But one thread that joins all these memorable dance ballets together is their choreographer — Bhushan Lakandri.
He is one of the most creative person in the field of dance in our country who has been living a life outside the arc lights. Sitting by the side, he has set up ballets that have become legend and he remains unaffected with all the applause his work is getting. So humble, so down-to-earth and so humorous in this approach towards people that even funny man Johnny lever could take a few lessons from him.
Since the time I have started seeing the mythological dance ballets, I always had a wish to meet the creator, as his work is surely a treat for the eyes. God heard my wish and the gorgeous Sharbani recently introduced me to him. We met him at his house over lunch. When his house doors opened, I saw this charismatic man welcoming us. A neat and clean house spoke of his character of being a perfectionist and he simply made my day and said he had cooked personally for me as he loved me as a dancer. Such a comment coming from a legend like him makes me feel elated of my own skills.
Two decades in this field. So many years of hard work, planning and executing mesmerising dance ballets but why no awards? He said, “I need no awards to be recognised. My dance ballets are being performed all over the world. Its houseful shows year after year and the belief only I can make gods come down from heaven and dance on stage are my awards. When artistes like you search for me and come to meet me, this is the real award.”
Today, he may not be having his photographs splashed all over the new papers, but yes, he is the man behind the success of Indian gods turning glamorous to reach to the audience world over. Bhushanji is one contended man who does not feel the need of the limelight, for this true dance lover, creating dance moves, making the right expression, experimenting with lights and costumes is happiness.
I am writing this today because I feel privileged to have met a person like him who is so happy in his own skin, unaffected by the glamour around him, sharing his amazing thoughts and few words on creativity. And above , I am the lucky one who has eaten food cooked by him, which by the way tastes better than his ever-gripping dance ballet. Our meeting looked so positive that I am hoping one day I would get an opportunity to dance to his tunes and get to learn all that I always wished to.
Sandip Soparrkar is a well known Latin and Ballroom dancer, a World Book of Records holder and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honoured with National Achievement Award and National Excellence Award by the Govt of India. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org