It is not the first time that acclaimed Bharatanatyam dancer Malavika Sarukkai has been shot for a film. Her robust performances have been captured by the BBC, Wnet (USA), Cinematheque Dance Paris and others. Yet, after watching the whirlwind of a trailer of The Unseen Sequence, a documentary made by adman Sumantra Ghosal; one has the inkling of being privy not only to an artiste but also to a world of art and devotion verging on an ethos.
Surprising as it may sound then, Ghosal embarks on a journey of discovery being a stranger to the world of Bharatanatyam. Labelling it as an “ignoramus’ view” the filmmaker stresses how any sensitive viewer can discover “many unseen sequences of dance”. “The film is about what goes in an artiste’s mind. After dancing for so many decades, you find a language through discipline and freedom,” fills in Sarukkai.
The danseuse avers that it is a combination of the two seeming polarities that allows re-interpretation of a form, “It is like when a flower opens -- the bud’s slow but significant movements are like the discovery of dance.”
Brushing aside any claims of spanning the lifetime of the dancer or the form, Ghosal comments, “One and a half hours can’t explore such issues. The film is not pure entertainment but will help in exposing myths while simultaneously showing truths.” Ghosal further relates that looking through the tradition of Devadasis who both Sarukkai and Ghosal equally revere; Bharatanatyam becomes a modern dance form: “It is a reaction to the socio-cultural developments in the twentieth century.”
The film contains several performances that were shot live. After much labour and faith of these two artistes over two years, this documentary of discoveries urges one to see the unseen.
On September 19, 6.30 pm
At NCPA, Nariman Point.