The Taalam Talkies series aim to profile renowned classical dancers who have had a strong presence on the silver screen. “Being familiar with my scripting and storytelling skills, Anita wanted me to create the inaugural episode for that series. And it could not have been about anyone else but Kamala, who had made Bharatanatyam a household name during its revival era in the 1940s, with her performances on stage and in cinema. Since I was her student, it was apt that I got to script and create it. I brought in perspectives that were insightful and unique and I am very grateful to Anita who gave me the full freedom,” Ramaa tells us.
She took six weeks of intense work to create Kamala’s Natyam. “I wanted Fragrant Petals to bring educational and historical value to the viewer in an entertaining manner. It had to showcase the various facets of Kamala as a performer, teacher and woman, as well as highlight the cultural history of cinema and performing arts. Initially filmmakers used cinema not just for entertainment but as a crucial political and cultural tool as well, and for that, using classical music and dance. I read a lot of writings and archival news and began journaling my recollections to add to the story. To add some fun, I gathered a note pad with quirky trivia about each film. A few songs were lengthy. So, editing them without losing the continuity was a feat in itself. Then I acquired copyright claims after which the mega task of script writing began. I have also narrated, edited, created graphics, and remixed title music on my own because this project is a tribute to my mentor, and so I wanted it from my own creative efforts. It has turned out well with smoothness and humour,” explains the dancer.
Ramaa promises that there is something in the video project for everyone – for dance historians, moviebuffs, old Kamala fans, dancers of today. “A dance historian commented after seeing the three episodes, that they hold very high historical and archival value. I have also been overwhelmed with excited responses from next-gen dancers who have only read about her in their dance history curriculum. In her days, Kamala ignited the dance fervour in youngsters and through my, she would doing it again,” she smiles.
Fragrant Petals – Kamala’s Natyam can be watched on the YouTube channels of both Ramaa Bharadvaj and Narthaki Online.