Old methods, new moves

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 25.12.05
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She has celebrated Indian dance in the most traditional format all her life but, ironically, it is through her daughter Isha Sharvani?s newly-acquired Bollywood roots that Daksha Sheth is gaining fresh recognition. But, of course, she doesn?t mind that a bit.

?I never wanted to force her into dancing because I wanted Isha to live her own dreams rather than have her fulfil her parents? ambitions,? said Daksha during her visit to the city to perform at the Fairever Anandalok Purashkar 2005.

?So when she came up to me and said, ?Mamma I want to dance?, I told her straightaway that it would be a very tough discipline? She turned out to be the only female member of my group and she gave it her all to reach the required energy levels.?

A trained kathak dancer, Daksha uses a lot of traditional martial art forms from her home state Kerala. ?I believe we Indians are the only people in the world apart from Africans who are holding on to our roots. But at the same time we have to present that tradition in a form that is acceptable to everyone. So what I try to do is blend the old with the new and showcase our rich culture to the world.?

Subhash Ghai?s Kisna not only gave Isha a once-in-a-lifetime break to be the new Mukta Arts girl, but also gave the mother a chance to be a Bollywood choreographer. ?Mr Ghai made us so comfortable on the sets that we could only give our best,? Daksha recalled. ?Since Isha?s character was to perform against natural settings like rocks and mountains, I gave her very free and flexible moves. It was really a grand experience.?

Why then does Daksha Sheth?s name not feature in the dance credits for any other Bollywood film? ?I have not been offered anything after Kisna,? is the prompt reply. ?And it?s not that I am someone who hates the kind of dances that are practised in Hindi films. In fact, I believe some very good work is being done. But there has to be more of such work that blends traditional dance forms with modern moves.?

While the mother-daughter duo keeps performing around the world ? daughter on stage, mother behind it ? Daksha is particularly excited about her latest assignment. ?We are the only Indians to be invited by the Australian government to perform at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games next year. It will be great to represent our country at such a prestigious occasion.?

Pratim D. Gupta

The world?s a game

?Please tell us what happens to Kirin.?

?You seriously don?t expect me to give everything away! He may die??

Moans of ?O, no!? followed by more questions, ?Isn?t Danh-Gem an anagram?? ?Is the Silver Dagger ever found?? ?How do you conceive your monsters??

This is certainly not something out of a JK Rowling book launch with the accompanying fan flurry. For much as Samit Basu (whose book launch it was) admires Rowling, he is the first to acknowledge that he is nowhere close.

What is surprising, however, is the enthusiasm this 26-year old has already sparked with his debut novel The Simoqin Prophecies, the first of a fantasy called GameWorld trilogy, published by Penguin Books in 2004. The book has since been translated into Swedish and German, and has even been reprinted by Penguin in a new cover.

Its popularity in India could easily be gauged by the number of readers (ranging from 13 to 80 years) who had assembled at Crossword for the launch of its sequel, The Manticore?s Secret. And Samit hopes to live up to expectations with a third book The Unwaba Revelations to be published sometime in 2006.

So what is the secret of success? ?The timing,? smiles Samit. And his inspiration? ?WWF wrestling on TV,? says this author who seems to seriously refuse to be taken seriously. ?The reason why so many sci-fi and weird fiction writers in India flounder is because they take everything too seriously. They are too worried about what everything could and should mean.?

Later you learn that the reason he ?suddenly figured out the ending of the book I?d always wanted to write?, and chucked his MBA course was his long-term interest in all kinds of myths and science fiction. The first book was born from three months of research (reading all kinds of myths: Zulu, Aztec, Greek, Indian?) and sporadic writing. What resulted was quite a remix, which overflows as the second book.

The GameWorld the gods play is something like a video game, but bubbling underneath all the action is an infectious laughter that not only undercuts the protagonists but also takes pot shots at current cultural and social mores. ?Indians are culturally geared towards a fondness for fantasy or science fiction,? says the author. ?Ancient Indian wise men wrote about flying saucers, death-rays, hideous alien monsters and incredible machines, setting down tales of wonder and imagination in massive epics that still enthral the world. Add to that our vast, sprawling panorama of folktales old and new.?

Samit, who sees himself as the Unwaba, the know-all lizard from his books, plans to embark on some interesting projects like film scripts and some graphic novels. The last word: ?Just write!?

Sebanti Sarkar

Woman in red spreads Xmas cheer

Taking a break from shooting, RAIMA SEN lent a helping hand to Santa Claus in distributing gifts to challenged children from Mentaid on Christmas eve. ?I loved being with the kids and giving away gifts to them,? gushed the brand ambassador for Westside, at the Gariahaat Shopping Mall. Raima will spend Christmas at home before returning to Mumbai. Picture by Pabitra Das