Unshackle age-old chains

Jan 29, 2015, 07:30 IST | Soma Das

Savitha Sastry’s solo Bharatanatyam dance theatre production — Chains: Love Stories of Shadows, depicts the life of a woman juggling the thin line between personal choice and societal expectations

Danseuse Savitha Sastry is acclaimed for stories that she narrates through Bharatanatyam, which transcend mythological and religious frameworks. Her latest production, Chains: Love Stories of Shadows, continues the trend by portraying a human story (without elements of spirituality) that premieres in the city, followed by shows in Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi, and an overseas tour.

Savitha Sastry
Savitha Sastry’s performance highlights the battle of a woman trying to juggle societal expectations and follow her dreams

The act is an ode to a woman who is caught between personal choice and societal expectations. It is based on writer AK Srikanth’s trilogy of short stories. The musical score is by Rajkumar Bharathi and includes 100 musical tracks. Vibrant costumes and light technology have also been used to add to the experience.

The first part follows a 16-year-old girl, Vichitra, who falls in love with Adhvik, a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. Her love story is brought to a halt by her parents. The second part shows her becoming a wife, mother and daughter-in-law; yet in her dreams, she aches to be a diva. She has to decide if it would be selfish to pursue her dreams. In the third part, as an old lady, she lives alone, and tries to make peace with her life. She accepts her lover who never spoke, but followed her, chained to her like her shadow; she realises this lover was solitude and this was the love that would last forever.

Speaking about the production, Sastry says, “The inspiration came from a period in my life that formed the basis of Srikanth’s story. He followed it with two other stories based on true lives that made for a trilogy. The one thing that struck us was the common thread that ran through a woman’s life: the constant tug between societal expectations and personal choices that weigh heavier on a woman’s shoulder, accentuated by her ‘imposed guilt’. The concept fascinated me.”

Sastry feels that the audience might find the show akin to theatre: “It’s an intelligent marriage of the technique and grace of Bharatanatyam, and the intense content of good theatre.”

She admits that being a solo performer in such productions is taxing. “Group dancers get a break; I don’t. Traditional solo performances get a break between two pieces while the musicians strum away. In my productions, I am never away for over 10 seconds, barely enough time to gulp a glass of water,” she reveals.

Sastry’s message behind Chains..is simple, “Classical Indian dance can tell a story; any story, in a way no other art form can. And everyone: connoisseurs and novices alike, of all ages and backgrounds, can understand it.”

On: January 31, 7 pm (NCPA, Nariman Point); February 7, 7 pm (Agri Koli Sanskriti Bhavan, Navi Mumbai).

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