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Rohini Bhate Dialogues
- Nikhil Ravi Parmar
Photos: Tejdipty's Photography

October 7, 2017

'Rohini Bhate Dialogues,' a wonderful initiative and platform created in collaboration with Raza Foundation (Delhi) and Nadroop (Pune), is the celebration of the wholesome personality of Guru Rohini Bhate in roles of not just a dancer but as a person who dons many hats. This initiative is a creative idea of Guru Shama Bhate to have a constant interest in young dancers to also listen, grow and perceive apart from just the practical knowledge one receives. Shama Bhate has constantly given importance to the overall development of a dancer into an artist and not just a dancer.

A unique topic of discussion 'Image - The image of Reality and reality of Image' got everyone glued to their seats with curiosity having an interesting line up of speakers from the allied field of arts. The morning session began with the introductory speech by Ashok Vajpeyi, the founder of Raza Foundation. In a very thoughtful approach to introduce the topic, Vajpeyi stated his thoughts on 'Vichar Tatva' and 'Aatma Rati' throwing light on how the present dance scenario is based on the latter and how image and reality is an idea that has seen light in the present times. A very befitting end to his entire introduction would be to quote him, "I do not want to please you; I want to disturb you into a new perception of reality!"

As a dancer and student myself, I come across this visual of being Shiva when you are not, of being Krishna when you just cannot be, but the above quote pushed me into thinking if the idea was to let go of your existence and see a new reality by being Shiva / Krishna who are an image of your reality!

Ashok Vajpeyi

Pt Suresh Talwalkar

Following these thoughts, next on panel was Pt Suresh Talwalkar, an accomplished musician and guru in his own right. In view of his strong belief of Guru Bhakti and musical journey, he shared his instances from days of his training and riyaz. On how his guru insisted that you practice a particular Qaida saying, "Our guru always enforced on the idea of repeating the same Qaida until it fits into your system." The unbound practice found its value only when you performed after years of training. He also mentioned beautifully about the "Form i.e. Moorth" and the "Formless i.e. Amoorth." He concluded his talk with a beautiful bandish, "Chalo hato priya" in ada chautala leaving the listeners spellbound. One could see from his sharing that the Guru is both- Image and Reality!

Taking his musical journey of 'Image' forward was Kathak Guru Prerana Shrimali. Her image on stage seemed like a painting coming to life. Shrimali subtly introduced her views on the topic through questions of: What is reality? Is it seen/heard/felt? If one is doubtful about the real, then how true is your image? If this is the fact, then both image and reality are out of question and it comes to the state of 'nothing' or 'Shoonya'! As a dancer who has worked on various works of poets, literature and text and mediums, Prerana Shrimali gave a lot of insight into the physical presence i.e. the 'Sharira.' She gave the example from her training period with her guru, where her Guruji used to say, "Tum apne sharir ke hisaab se nacho" and on contrary also stated "Sharir chodke nacho." As a student these thoughts confused her and never got her area of understanding. Further, she gave examples of how in dance, hasta mudras also are constantly crafting an image of reality and vice versa. Finally she quoted, "If body is the image of reality, then dance is the reality of image." At this point, I thought… why this constant shift in the idea of image and reality? In context of a poet and musician their existence was reasoned but in vision of a dancer - why this shift?

Before the next session, we had a small interval which put my mind on a constant trail of thoughts. Everything I felt through the break was through the eyes of image and reality. With this constant buzzing of thoughts, I looked forward to know what poet, scholar and philosopher Udayan Vajpeyi had to share! He very articulately put forth his views. Going by his prolific background, one could see his logical question and answer in relation to the topic. What really got my attention was his ideas on 'Bhaav' and 'Vibhav' giving example of how Ayodhya first came in the Ramayan and then on this planet. In short, the topic was discussed in terms of one perception and practicality. This ended day one of this intriguing seminar.

Prerana Shrimali

Udayan Vajpeyi

Pt Satyasheel Deshpande

Prabhakar Kolte

On day 2 of the seminar, the morning session began on a musical note by renowned musician Pt Satyasheel Deshpande. He began by rendering a beautiful composition in raag Bhimpalasi which had a calming effect on the otherwise curious mind. As a singer, Deshpande drew comparisons on the idea of image and reality by presenting one composition and how the same composition was perceived differently by different gurus in idea of their understanding of music. An interdisciplinary take on the abstraction of various ragas had everyone enjoying the session and at the same time gave a practical outline to the topic. Perception played a key role in his views which I agreed to, silently in my mind.

The next session was by Prabhakar Kolte, a renowned painter. As a visual artist, Kolte was very interesting to follow. His talk was constantly supported by visual imagery of paintings of artists like Van Gogh, Salvador Dali to mention a few. He stated with great conviction that "Reality is the Truth." In everyday scenario, one is constantly creating an image of oneself by acknowledging the 'Reality,' i.e. the truth!

On these lines, 'Image' and 'Reality' were discussed in different views, ideas and notions where, as a listener, I constantly shifted through my own thoughts in parallel. This topic definitely sowed a seed of curiosity which still lingers in my mind... is the image real? Or is the real my image?

Nikhil Ravi Parmar, a disciple of Guru Maya Rao, has worked as a principal dancer of the Natya STEM Dance Kampni. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Kathak from Lalit Kala Kendra, Pune University, under the guidance of Guru Shama Bhate.