The dreams of the Dream Girl
The Dream Girl of Indian cinema Hema Malini is not just a fantastic actress and politician, she is a dancer par excellence and a performer who has time and again proved that the passion for art is more important than anything in the world. Despite her busy political career and film shoots, she has always taken out time to perform on stage. Be it the Ganesha festival in Pune, Janmashtami celebrations in Mathura, Durga Pooja in Kolkata or Dussehra in Mumbai, she performs stories of Radha Krishna, Shiva-Parvati, Durga, Kali, Laxmi and Draupadi,. And she has done it all with aplomb. When one sees Hemaji on stage, dressed in the avatar of an Indian goddess, bedecked in flowers, gold and diamond jewellery and performing Bharatanatyam, one believes that if a goddess ever descended on earth, she would definitely look as gorgeous as Hemaji, such is the power of her beauty and her performance.
But there is more to her than just this. Hemaji feels she one of the dharohars of Indian culture and it is her responsibility to take the tradition of dance ahead in the correct manner. As a dancer and as a performer, it is not always important to get centrestage but there comes a time when an accomplished dancer allows a talented junior to take the spotlight. For a dancer, the support of his or her family is very important.
The award-winning actress and dancer began Jaya Smriti, a dance and music festival in the memory of her late mother Smt Jaya Chakravarty in 2005. “My mother was a pillar of strength and an inspiration to young aspiring dancers and artistes. She was always ready to showcase their talent and encourage them to reach their full potential in their respective art forms. She had many dancers looking up to her for support which she willingly provided. Her passion for dance was reflected in the fact that at a very tender age, she began my dance training in Bharatanatyam. Today, I credit her entirely for shaping up my career as a dancer, performer and an actress,” says Hema Malini.
It has been a decade now that the Jaya Smriti Festival has been providing a platform to young aspiring dancers and at the same time having renowned artistes perform to inspire the younger generation. In the past, well-known artistes like Kavita Krishnamurthy have given music recitals, Shekhar Sen has performed his drama on Kabir, Devdutt Pattanaik has painted and narrated stories from Indian mythology, Mandakini Trivedi has presented a story of a mother in Mohiniattam, Esha and Ahana Deol have danced too — all this was done to show the younger aspirants that what it takes to be a star in the field of art. The younger crop of artistes like Bharatanatyam dancers Pavitra Krishna Bhatt and Revanta Sarabhai, Kathak dancer Vishal Krishna, Manipuri dancer Tanushri Das and many more have danced too at the festival.
There have also been dance, music and theatre workshops by renowned artistes. The festival has encouraged performances of many group dances and lesser-known dance forms like Gotipua, Dolu Kunita, Kalaripayattu. In short, Jaya Smriti Festival has been one landmark celebration in the field of music, dance and theatre.
This year being the 10th year of the festival, Hemaji decided to bring an artiste with a lineage of dance and music. “I wanted to make the 10th year a very special one for Jaya Smriti Festival so along with other talented artistes, I planned to bring artistes who have music and dance in their blood from generations. The grandchildren of music and dancing legends of India came together to enthral the audience and I am glad the decade celebration became a memorable evening,” she said.
The entry for the festival, held at Menak Sabhagriha, was free. All dancers and dance lovers were welcomed with open arms by the gorgeous actress and her equally talented daughter Esha Deol Takhtani. The inaugural lamp was lit by Minister of Revenue, Agriculture, State Excise and Minority Affairs, Government of Maharashtra Eknath Khadse.
This year, the festival brought three extremely talented youngsters on stage — Maithri Rao, a young and gifted Bharatanatyam dancer from Mysore; Hindustani vocalist Tejashree Amonkar, granddaughter of legendary singer Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan Kishori Amonkar; Preetisha Mohapatra, granddaughter of Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra performed Odissi.
The festival also presents The Jaya Award to artistes, recognising their contribution as senior artistes, dancers, choreographers, teachers, scholars and people who have made a significant contribution in the field of dance. The award is presented each year to honour such personalities. This year, the award was presented to Deepak Mazumdar for his outstanding contribution as a dancer, teacher, and scholar in the field of Bharatanatyam.
I pray to Lord Nataraj today, hoping late Smt Jaya Chakravarty’s dream of supporting and encouraging young artistes which has taken the shape of this magnificent festival grows even more and touches the soul to every artiste and art-lover all over the world.