For editor-turned-director Sankalp Meshram,recording the performances by Alarmel Valli,one of the countrys prominent Bharatanatyam dancers,started as an archival project in November 2009. In the following years,by his own admission,it grew organically into a lyrical and experiential documentary of Vallis art. He decided to encompass the artists work,life as well as her ideas related to dance in his film. This gave Lasya Kavya which was recently selected as the winner of the National Award for Best Non-Feature Film on Art and Culture depth and made it an insightful work.
With the nature of the project changing from archiving Vallis work to a taking an in-depth look at her dance and repertoire,the directors approach changed too. Recording live performances throws a set of challenges. We created sets and gave it a more professional treatment, recalls Meshram,a Film and Television Institute of India,Pune,graduate who has directed movies such Chutkan Ki Mahabharat. This turned out to be a very different experience for the 56-year-old dancer-choreographer. For Lasya Kavya, most of the dance shots were filmed at Filmistan studio in Mumbai. It was a very exhausting,even gruelling process. I would go in around 10 am and we sometimes filmed until 7 pm or 8 pm,breaking briefly for lunch and tea.
Chennai-based Valli has,from very early on in her career,been featured in a number of documentaries,made by international and national television directors and companies,including the BBC. Yet,Lasya Kavya remains special for her. It is a complete film. In 77 minutes,it brings together not just segments of dance,but also my thoughts and ideas on dance. It touches on aspects of my life that were significant in shaping me, she says. The documentary also,for the first time,features her mothers interview.
Behind the making of the documentary lies one of her deep desires. To have great gurus is a boon,especially in these days of rampant commercialisation. This film is an attempt to share with the younger generation,in a small measure,the wonderful gifts Ive received from my masters and to give them a glimpse of my world, she says.