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Sanchari - A ‘Films on Dance’ Festival

February 21, 2018

The best film of any kind, narrative or documentary, provoke questions.
- Edward Norton

The first weekend of February saw Puneites finding their way to National Film Archives of India (NFAI), Pune, to watch a film festival dedicated to classical dance. The first ever in Pune, ‘Sanchari’, a festival of dance films, was jointly organised by Kalavardhini Charitable Trust and Loud Applause Dance Magazine in association with NFAI. Bharatanatyam dancer Arundhati Patwardhan came up with the idea and found Neha Muthiyan, Kathak dancer and editor of Loud Applause magazine on the same wavelength. The motive was to encourage and educate the audience about watching films on dance and bring to them the rare dance forms on screen. The festival was curated, analysed and conducted by noted art historian, dance critic, editor-attendance magazine, Ashish Mohan Khokar. The 2 day festival (Feb 3 & 4, 2018) focused on bringing out the different aspects of dance through films and saw dancers and non dancers, including students of film making attend in large numbers.

Sucheta Chapekar, Ashish Khokar, Alarmel Valli

Alarmel Valli, Prakash Magdum

The festival opened with ‘Lasya Kavya’, a film on renowned Bharatanatyam dancer Alarmel Valli. It was a pleasure to have the director, Sankalp Meshram for an interaction regarding the making, experience of working with Alarmel Valli and the crucial point of budgeting of the film, with the audience. Documentaries on Pt. Gopikrishna made by Madhuri Apte and a Films Division creation on Guru Chengannur were also screened. A beautifully made film by G. Aravindan, ‘Marattam’, which brought Kathakali in a different perspective, was the closing film for the day. Ashish Khokar enlightened the audience with his oratory skills and knowledgeable insights on subjects like Guru Shishya Parampara, importance of aharya, difference between contemporary and modern, importance of documentation of dance work of living legends for future generations, supported with films from the Mohan Khokar Archives on Kathak queens like Roshan Kumari, Damayanti Joshi and contemporary work of classical dancers like Daksha Sheth, Aditi Mangaldas, Mallika Sarabhai, etc giving the audience an overview of a century of dance.

The highlight of the festival was an interaction with Alarmel Valli herself. She mesmerized the audience with her philosophy towards dance along with a thought provoking interaction which revolved around the experience of making ‘Lasya Kavya’ and the process of developing an idea creatively, with Sucheta Chapekar and Ashish Khokar. The closing film for the festival was ‘Kapila’ by Sanju Surendran featuring Koodiyattam dancer Kapila Venu which left the audience captivated and wanting for more. It was a perfect end to the festival, with special thanks to Prakash Magdum, Director NFAI, for his support and cooperation.