FOR more than three decades Beenu Rajpoot has been following noted Kathak dancer Shovana Narayan’s life and creative journey closely. And this interaction that has inspired the 36-year-old to film a documentary titled ‘Born to Dance’ which was screened at the Government Museum and Art Gallery on Tuesday. Extensive research and two long years have been devoted to give shape to the film, says Rajpoot an alumnus of Philosophy Department, Panjab University.
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“The basic philosophy is to preserve our art, culture and heritage for the future generations through films, which are such a powerful medium to reach out to wider audiences and opens so many doors,” says Rajpoot, who has worked with film-maker Mike Pandey and photographer OP Sharma for many years.
With a keen interest in art and culture, Rajpoot also learnt Kathak to understand its nuances and dynamics, which she agrees helped her in the process of filming.
“Shovana is classical example of a multi-faceted, successful and dynamic personality. A storehouse of creativity, talent and a pillar of inner strength and determination, she has taken Kathak to places, with her contribution at the international level unparalleled. Through her dance, she has got issues of environment, human rights, gender on centre-stage,” says Rajpoot.
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The documentary strives to capture the various facets of Narayan’s life – an IAS officer, keen researcher, writer, brilliant dancer and choreographer, activist and a respected guru.
The film also showcases the many stages of aspects of Shovana’s dance and performances over the years, and her constant effort to take Kathak to new audiences.
In the film, Rajpoot says she has attempted to show how Narayan has created new grounds, keeping intact the traditional vocabulary, essence and format of presentation of the dance.
Despite being a traditionalist, Narayan has not let tradition tie her down, and has fearlessly and boldly moved forward with the belief that expression is instinctive and spontaneous, with the environment reflecting in our creative efforts, actions and thoughts.
Narayan, who was present at the screening of the film, described the film as a “commitment” and a “sadhna”.
“As a person, she is very giving, compassionate, open to giving ideas, and I received so much support and guidance from her for this film,” Rajpoot believes movies are memories of our lifetime and we need to keep them alive, for storytelling expands our understanding of shared human experience.
The challenges of being a documentary film-maker are many, agrees Rajpoot, finances being the most critical one.
“Stories should come from a place of love, kindness, and truthfulness, “ Rajpoot says with a smile, who is now working on a film on Ghalib, Punjab’s cultural ethos and eight forms of Indian classical dance.