Ashimbandhu Bhattacharya, a brilliant kathak dancer and disciple of Birju Maharaj, presented his new production, Andaz E Ghalib, at Rabindra Sadan on August 26, under the aegis of the Upasana Centre for Dance, his institution. This ambitious, well-researched project was not a documentation, as the choreographer himself admitted at the beginning of the show. Neither was it an ordinary dance-drama with song, dance and narration in between. The choreographer tried to explore the life of this great poet with dance, dialogue and music but failed to build up the desired mood. It could have been a smart and emotionally enriching dance-theatre elucidating the life and passion of Mirza Ghalib. Unfortunately, it lacked in versatility and the structural confusion was a weakness of the presentation.
The programme started off quite impressively with a colourful and rhythmic group sequence. With a large canvas as the backdrop, Ashim used an eclectic array of movements and compositions to deftly portray the character of Ghalib, which gradually revealed its different shades and perspectives. With strong footwork and elegant movements, Ashim used the expanse of the stage to his advantage. While the dance sequences were precise and technically sound, the dramatic portions with dialogue were weak and lacked the desired maturity. Janab Haider Ali Khan’s research work that went into this work deserves mention. Debasish Ghosh’s music was excellent. It produced the right pattern at the right time. The mehfil and durbar sequences were enriched by the thaat, bol and chakkars. The costumes, an important part of any dance production, were aesthetically done. However, despite offering a few rich sequences, the production lacked lead dancers, which is why it could not do justice to the choreography or to the beautiful music. Neither could the pace of the presentation be maintained. The only exception was Luna Poddar. Her scintillating performance made production stark, energetic and smart. Luna showed technical perfection and her total involvement with the dance form. Dinesh Poddar’s lighting was sheer poetry, falling caressingly on the artistes and highlighting them. Ritwika Shome Chowdhury, Subhadra Basu Roy, Saswati Mukherjee, Partho Das, Swati Rudra and others performed with great care.