Caged Bird – a shishya’s tribute to his guru Padma Shri Astad Deboo
The guru-sishya bond is eternal, this relationship is the most sacred and through this relationship a guru leaves his legacy behind too. There is a very famous doha of Kabir Das that says:
Yah tan vish kee belaree, guru amrit kee khan,
Sheesh diyo jo guru mile, to bhee sasta jaan.
The meaning of this is beautifully applicable in dance and dancers, Yeh Tan (our body) is vish kee belaree (filled with negativity) – a body is untrained, novice with no directions at all. Sheesh Diyo jo guru mile (get a teacher in exchange of our head) to bhee sasta jaan (still it’s a great deal) – dedicate ones life to the teacher and what you will get in turn will be the best deal for life.
The above goes well with contemporary dancer Narayan Sharma from Delhi, a student of Padma Shri Astad Deboo who recently came up with a beautiful tribute to his late guru called Caged Bird. Seeing this brilliant tribute dedicated to the person who taught Narayan all about contemporary dance brought tears to my eyes and I spoke to Narayan about it in details:
Sharma started dancing at a young age. He had already trained under various choreographers at both national and international level, when he met Late Padma Shri Astad Deboo. And, the rest, as they say, is history. Excerpts from an interview:
How did the concept of Caged Bird come about?
My guruji – Padma Shri Astad Deboo left for heavenly abode last year in December. I was shattered when I received the news. Since then, it had been in my mind to do something as a tribute to my mentor. As days passed by and uncertainty loomed over the world due to coronavirus pandemic, the concept of the video came to my mind.
We all are like birds – trapped in this situation, trying harder to break free from the shackles this new looming danger that has engulfed us in. I took inspiration from my guruji’s dance forms and style, while juxtaposing it with my style – and a dance form was ready in my mind.
I spent many nights and days carefully visualising lights, shots, backdrop etc. To seek inspiration, I even spent time with Nature, with myself and the universe. Slowly and gradually, what all I had imagined and visualized materialized and the dance video came up.
How difficult was it to bring this out?
Super difficult and challenging, But I knew my guruji was watching over me from the heavens. It was due to his blessings that I was able to smoothly sail through the making of the film. I had been working on my forms while strictly controlling my diet. For over two months, I didn’t have anything apart from Boiled Rajmas and bottle gourd, coupled with my daily workouts for flexibility and toning. I had to connect with my body, work on it and make it ready for the dance film while searching for talent that can help me put up this video.
Finance was another stress as I had to curb my expenses – save Rs 100 or Rs 200 bucks every day – to make this video a reality. Pandemic has been super hard on the creative community, and I too faced the repercussions. I stopped taking autos to save the money for the film, often walked to my destinations to save money.
A project is always a collaborative affair, who all helped you to make this tribute come true?
I had talks with many cinematographers & filmmakers and collaborators for the video. But somehow the vibes didn’t match and I am always very particular about the vibe. Eventually, I met Delhi-based filmmaker Siddhant Joshi who made sure my imagination comes to the screen.
Please give details of how it was made
The process of making this film was full of surprises, technical difficulties and challenges. This video is a product of my imagination, which I used to jot down in my diary for over two months. I had to go through an intense process of pre-production wherein arranging for things wasn’t an easy task. I had to finalise the location – a correct dance studio with enough ceiling height and width to put up lights and cameras. It was a multi camera set up, which needed more space than usual.
Shooting was another challenge, as we were low on budget and manpower – everyone in the team, including me, had to climb up walls to set up lights and black clothes. We were shooting during peak of summers, in a studio, with no AC. I had to reenact the same dance form again and again, to shoot it from different angles. It took us the whole night. It was hard on my body.
Due to pressing deadlines, we had to edit this video immediately after the shoot – so after taking a day’s break, we were on the edit table. Siddhant and I edited the film in one go, which took us about 23 hours of continuous screen staring and discussions. We didn’t take any breaks apart from lunch and dinner calls. It was tough and needed a lot of perseverance, dedication and passion. The end result was deeply satisfying though.
What are your future plans?
I want to create new productions, add magic to it, give my best and travel the world with it. I wish to spread the art and make people love such offbeat and different dance forms. I wish to work at a much larger level, to spread my message of humility and humility through my artwork to different corners of the world.
I have always believed that whenever a project is made all heart and emotions it can never go wrong and Caged Bird by Narayan Sharma is exactly so. If you have not seen it you surely have missed something unique. Here is the link see it to believe it.