It was a thought that germinated in Spain five years ago. While a slew of Indian musicians and dancers,including sitar player Anoushka Shankar,found a common musical ground with the Spanish flamenco,Bharatanatyam dancer Rukmini Chatterjee fell in love with something more unexpected. It all happened on a trip to Bilbao when Chatterjee entered a tiny watering hole and found herself hooked to shrieky vocals,highly distorted guitars and some unconventional song structures that mostly spoke about urban issues.
Soon,she found herself headbanging to those snarls and growls. It was so ritualistic. I was immediately transported to the tantrik rituals happening in India. I,at once,knew I wanted to plan a production, says Paris-based Chatterjee,who then contacted Jarle Kvale,the songwriter and bassist with Norwegian black metal outfit,Vreid (meaning wrath).
After corresponding for a year-and-a-half over email,Chatterjee and Vreid members are now presenting Questionings a production that will combine the symbols and rhythms of Indian classical dance with dark lyrics and intensive black metal which will take place in Mumbai at the Tata Theatre,NCPA on Wednesday.
My artistic quest has always been about getting different cultures to meet,something that I have been exploring over the last 15 years, says Chatterjee,who has used the theme of kalyug in this production and thus,chose black metal. I found that black metal artistes are some of the greatest urban poets, she adds.
As for Jarle Kvale,the songwriter and bassist of the band that has been in existence since the 90s,he was looking for something out-of-the-box. Being musicians,the high is to discover unique music, says Kvale,who is completely aware of Bharatanatyam as a dance form and how it is rooted in the tradition.
Black metal is a modern art form. We are not trying to adapt in a way that we lose our originality. Our lyrics have taken a new direction after being combined with Indian classical dance; something I hadnt even thought of while writing, he adds. With Jorn Holen on the drums,Stean Bakketeig on guitars and Sture Dingsoyr on lead vocals,Chatterjee has also roped in a couple of kathak dancers for the performance.
Interestingly,Chatterjee does not identify with the word fusion. I dont believe in fusion. I believe in meeting. The moment you go deeper into the essence of any piece of art,it becomes universal, says the 41-year-old dancer,who learnt music from Mrinalini Sarabhai in Ahmedabad and moved to Paris 22 years ago and has,since then,tried to build bridges between her own world and the world she has lived in. And this thought process translates into her performances.
The 50-minute production,divided into five parts,will travel to Ahmedabad and Bangalore after Delhi and Mumbai,and later to prestigious venues in Europe including The Opera of Oslo in Norway,Theatre De La Ville in Paris,apart from a gig at Le temps daimer la danse,one of the more popular dance festivals in France.