Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Digest for rec.arts.movies.local.indian@googlegroups.com - 4 updates in 4 topics

alt.fan.jai-maharaj@googlegroups.com (Dr. Jai Maharaj): Oct 14 12:36AM

Kerala to host All Lights India International Film Festival
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Jai Maharaj, Jyotishi
Om Shanti
habshi@anony.net: Oct 13 09:30PM

Comedy is hard to do , but this one keeps you engrossed for three
hours. Absolutely fantastic songs and dances , watch on youtube 'pussy
cats have cut my path'.
Beautiful photography , already declared a hit in India.
Singh is Bling
Loved that fantastic Romanian castle , orange coloured spires,
Amy Jackson a delight , a bit too young to sit in Akshays lap and she
does slap him for getting excited! Loved the machine gun ring tone ,
clears the room in no time! What fantastic dancing on top of the dam ,
is it the hoover? Lara Dutta look alike in supporting role.
Jawani phir na aigi
Pakistanis too seemed to have caught up with Bollywood ,
fantastic choreographed dance
In Tamil , what a marvellous backgrround score. Sri Devi beautiful as
ever plays the evil queen role, watch her in this dance. Also Shruti
Hassan , daughter of Kamal Hassan as the leading lady. Sit back in a
cinema if you can and enjoy the music.
Look at this song from the movie Puli, the tiger
Fell asleep and just woke up for the one or two ultraviolent scenes
The female lead never smiles , sings or dances.
habshi@anony.net: Oct 13 09:26PM

Looks beautiful , first Hindu woman in US congress
However dont agree with her about eternal soul , there isnt one ,
Krishna was wrong , our earthly existence is all we have but we should
enjoy every minute and stop any burqa wearing.
habshi@anony.net: Oct 13 09:18PM

The magic of masked dance
Masks worn during performances of Seraikella Chhau.
I was impelled to learn a masked form of Chhau, that of Seraikella
currently in the state of Jharkhand, by several motivations. During my
longest hiatus away from India, 1978-81, I had performed twice in the
Los Angeles, California Festival of Masks performing Mayurbhanj Chhau
of Baripada, Odisha, a non-masked form, and Manipuri Ras Jagoi. I
wanted to be able to offer a masked genre of India in future and knew
that the basic vocabulary of Seraikella Chhau movement is quite
similar to that of Mayurbanj. This desire was fulfilled in 1984 as a
Los Angeles Olympic Arts Festival, Festival of Masks featured
A deeper foundation for my interest was a long involvement with the
professional world of puppetry and masked theatre nurtured by the
department of puppetry at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Here I took
classes, performed in commissioned works accompanied by live symphony
orchestras, ushered for monthly puppet shows by internationally
acclaimed artists and became secretary of the Detroit Puppet Guild
while still in middle school which required amending the membership
The lament of art and theatre arts teachers was that generally
creating masks and puppets was seen as an art project that never saw
them brought to life in action. Too often masks are seen as a work of
art or craft without the raison d'ĂȘtre of their being explored or
appreciated. This is more common in Western, or westernised
sensibilities, than in those more connected to still vibrant mask and
puppet traditions.
At core, the mask presents a sthai bhava, or the basic emotional state
of a character. This changes significantly to reflect and mirror the
dancer-actors physical expression of changing emotions to a remarkable
degree. The mask is the character in a way that one's own face can
only approximate, whether the moon or a bumblebee or Duryodana. When
the mask is immobile we see only this, yet the moment the mask tips
down a few inches or shifts slightly in any angle, we associate other
feeling to the same face.
Communicating this reality prompted me to combine a Purulia and
Seraikella Chhau Dance Mask Exhibition with movement and mask
demonstrations in a gallery at Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi in 1988.
I still remember the amazed delight of gallery goers as I took a mask
from the wall and transformed the expressions shown simply holding by
hand from behind; not even worn. The same transformation applies to a
well-manipulated puppet, of course.
It is my understanding that originally Seraikella masks were made of
bamboo and gourds, but from the 1920's the masks, costumes and
choreography were transformed by Kumar Bijay Pratap Singh Deo, brother
of Maharaja Adity Pratap Singh Deo. While both Mayurbanj and
Seraikella Chhau flourished under royal patronage, in Seraikella the
royals were hands-on in choreography and as dancers. This led to
lyrical compositions and using nature as metaphor for man's condition
in addition to the older compositions largely related to Mahabharata
and Ramayana themes. The delicacy and refinement of the masks designed
at this time reflect inspiration from both Indonesia and perhaps the
Art Nouveau movement, both readily assessable to the Singh Deos. It
was quite the rage in Europe starting from 1938 but unfortunately
looming WWII brought and to international tours and Independence
brought an end to royal patronage on a grand scale.
The masks themselves are layered cloth mache built up over a clay
mold. The smooth surface is created by a top layer of almost liquid
clay called slip. The masks are not very heavy but the design poses
challenges to the dancer. Depending on where the eyeholes are placed,
one may not be able to focus with both eyes on the stage or other
space that affects orientation and balance. Even if the placement
allows focus, peripheral vision is cut off and both good and bad
lighting can make maneuvering on stage problematic. A greater issue is
the close fitted mask design has nose openings that make breathing
fine when not dancing but quickly lead to hyperventilation with the
aerobic activity of actually dancing. Because of this, Seraikella
Chhau dances are generally limited to 5-10 minutes maximum whereas
Mayurbhanj Chhau dancers perform 15-20 minute dances (besides
additional torso movement that is minimal in Seraikella and Purulia
Chhau masked genres).
My enthusiasm to add Seraikella Chhau masked dances to my repertoire
after six years of Mayurbanj Chhau might have been dampened if I had
understood the investment fully. The experience of studying with Guru
Kedarnath Sahoo in Seraikella was a wonderful exploration of culture
and art, regardless of the fact that I was mid-pregnancy. I went to
the Singhbhum district of what was then Bihar to begin my training.
What was daunting, after learning Mayur and Sagar, was to find that
the headgear for the masks were made of Benares silk brocade with
elaborate beads and zari work decorated with artificial pearls. Under
royal patronage, no expense was spared to make gorgeous costumes crown
to toe. I now found that a five-minute performance would require, what
was for me at the time, a significant contribution to the economy of
Fortunately for me, besides the LA Olympic Festival performance I did
get opportunities to perform under the auspices of my guru and got
good use out of my masks and costumes! Guru Kedarnath Sahoo included
my solo with his troupe's performance at the Classical Indian Dance
Traditions and Modern Theatre Seminar/Festival organised by Padatik,
Calcutta, Bharatiya Natya Sangh and the International Theatre
Institute in 1983. As the only non-native performer in the festival,
my inclusion got interesting reactions. Guru Sahoo also invited me to
perform at the annual Chaitra Parva Festival in Seraikella.
The masks of Purulia, like the movement technique itself, have a bold
and earthier character and represent characters from Hindu mythology.
The shimmering headgear effectively uses less costly materials and,
developed without royal patronage by hardy agriculturalists, does not
rely on fine silks.
Seraikella Chhau masks represent humans as both mythological
characters as well as normal individuals from daily life, such as the
boatman and his wife on the storming river of samskara. Animals, birds
and even objects like the national flag, are personified with human
Choreographer Raj Kumar Bijay Pratap Singh Deo created dances and
masks representing ideas and seasons, notably marumaya (mirage),
basanta (spring season) and ratri (night). A masked form of dance is
ideally suited to express these concepts as the mask not simply
portraying but is the concept. The dancer uses the entire body
expressively to bring this liefmotif to life and develop the theme and
I was fortunate to have my Seraikella masks made by the legendary
national award winning mask maker, Baniprossona. Before needing
performance masks to use on stage in the mid 1980's, I had collected
others by this master in 1978, years before I ventured to learn the
art myself. Collecting South and South Asian masks and puppets was my
way of compensating for choosing dance over puppetry as a life focus.
Several of Baniprossono's masks were displayed at the New York Library
of Performing Arts during the Festival of India-USA along with some of
my Purulia and Odisha collection. The magic of the mask is fundamental
to Seraikella Chhau. I hope to return to other fundamentals of the
martial arts based Chhau forms in future articles.
Sharon Lowen is a respected exponent of Odissi, Manipuri and
Mayurbhanj and Seraikella Chhau whose four-decade career in India was
preceded by 17 years of modern dance and ballet in the
US and an MA in dance from the University of Michigan. She can be
contacted at sharonlowen.workshop@gmail.com.
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