Our new mega production “Shakuntala” – a la Broadway take on the epic love story by Kalidasa – was staged at The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.
As excited and thrilled as we were, we had challenges aplenty.And all good wishes go to Abu Jani – Sandeep Khosla for making it happen. The first and the foremost was to concise the gigantic epic to 25 minutes. After reading the original story at lighting speed , artistic director Mayuri first sketched out the first 50 characters for the project.
With that done and 20 days in hand, Madhuri and Vishwa helped create movements unique to each character. They also assisted in the rehearsals and helped speed the process. We even had the cute little Anagha playing the younger version of Shakuntala. And then we had the ever helpful Bhanu Akka who mentored Madhuri (Our very own Shakunatla) and Sathya (Dushyanta) in ‘abhinaya’. She made it a point to pay us a visit and give her opinion on the production.
Next challenges were the music and set. This was achieved with the help of excellent collaborators: Banagalore’s Mozart Praveen D Rao for music, acclaimed set designer Omung Kapur and Jasjeet for production.
Then there were the props and the aerials. After pouring through ample idea sketches,Mayuri and Sridhar Murthy came up with niche props, the deers being most favorite. Mumbai’s Natura Adventure Crew headed by Avishkar did what they do the best – the aerial rigging (“Wow! Did you see the boat and the fish?” – Some lady in audience said).
Any dance project is taken to altogether new heights by the costumes, lights and makeup. For this we had the best in their fields as collaborators. While Bipin Tanna and team, (under the watchful eye of AJSK and team, helped us design the costumes); Lyod and Arun Murthy added visual appeal to the production through their “wow” lighting. The looks of all the dancers were enhanced by Kapil Bhalla and team. He made the peacock, gypsies and mermaids look most dramatic!!
So while all the hullabulla was happening at Mumbai and Bangalore, our support system Geetha assisted by Masoom, made sure that rehearsals run smoothly and things were co-ordinated well.
The highlight of the production (apart from the dance, that is) was none other than the effervescent Rani Mukherjee. She gave in her 100% and worked enthusiastically and uncomplainingly with Mayuri and Madhuri. She brought in with her, her energy and spunk. She slipped into Shakuntala’s role with ease and did full justice to the legendary beauty.
And in spite of all the efforts we put in, Murphy’s Law “What is not supposed to go wrong, shall possibly do” hit us hard a day prior to the show. So we had debacles with the prop, dancers getting injured and the costumes. But we managed to survive the storm and came out of it pretty well I’d say. As a team we put in our best foot forward and gave it our all. Needless to say, we nailed it to the last bit.
And don’t they say “All is well that ends well.”?? So it was. Another experience of a lifetime.
Presenting team Nritarutya- Madhuri Upadhya, Geetha Ballal, Vishwakiran Nambi, Masoom, Niranjan, Rohan, Sathya, Pia, Preethi Bharadwaj, Veena, Karthik, Akshay, Latha, Deepak MP, Namratha B Rao.a, Namitha B Rao, Varsha Iyengara, Ashwin, Abhishek, Swapnashree, Prabin, Nandu, Ruchi, Shruti, Radhika, Pavithra, Mathangi Keshavan, Mafalda, Sheshadri, Sashidhar, Surabhi Bharadwaj, Jinoop, Sijoy, Anjali, Sindhu, Ashwini, Sangeeta, Anagha, Mahiti, Gowri, Shweta,Matangi Palden, Pratheek, Pooja, Keerthi Basavarajaiah, Kiran.