'The Prophet – Destiny, Divinity, Doubt' Bharathanatyam Dance Theatre by Savitha Sastry at Kamani Auditorium, Copernicus Marg, Mandi House > 7pm to 8:15pm on 12th April 2014

Time : 7:00 pm to 8:15 pm

Entry : Free (Seating on First-Come First-Served basis)

Place : Kamani Auditorium, Copernicus Marg, Mandi House, New Delhi-110001
Venue Info : Events | About | Map | Nearest Metro Station - 'Mandi House(Blue Line)'
Area : Events at Mandi House Area

Event Description : ‘The Prophet – Destiny, Divinity, Doubt’, Bharathanatyam Dance Theatre By Savitha Sastry.

The Prophet – Destiny. Divinity. Doubt. (2013)
In the darkness that enveloped a materialistic and angst filled world, she came as a saviour. She danced to the music of the Gods, and lived amongst the people as a beacon that would lead them to their salvation. But when the beacon burns to become a raging fire, who is the saviour, and who seeks deliverance?
This is the story of a Prophet – of her destiny, her divinity and her doubt.
‘The Prophet’ is a production that carries within it an intensity that will leave the audience thinking about it for a very long time. The stunning audio visual accompaniments, the completely out of the box musical score, and the achingly exquisite choreography and denouement of the presentation adds up to something far more than an evening of entertainment – it becomes an experience.
Savitha’s productions have always made the audience think long after her shows are performed.  In her last production, ‘Yudh’, audiences across the globe were seen glued to their seats even after the curtain call.  Savitha says, “these productions are a far cry from traditional classical Indian dance shows in that they deliver narratives of universal relevance with the grace of Bharathanatyam”.  The critics and audience have whole-heartedly agreed, giving her the affectionate epithet of “dancing storyteller”.
‘The Prophet’ has raised the bar over its electrifying predecessors, ‘Yudh’ and ‘Soul Cages’ in its production values and delivery. Savitha uses a close-knit team in her productions and their synergies are very apparent.  The story is by AK Srikanth, Savitha’s husband and partner in her production company Sai Shree Arts.  The music by the famous Chennai composer, Rajkumar Bharati, wows the audience with its international feel.  The lighting effects of Yudh, directed by Victor Paulraj, Chennai is so integral to the performance that it seems to be a character in itself. 
But, the crowning jewel of the performance is Savitha herself.  The power of the backstage team explodes on stage with the sheer choreography and dancing skills of Savitha Sastry.   There is an honesty and elegance about The Prophet that it becomes the moment where art can redefine life and its philosophy.

 More on the story and performance:
‘The Prophet’, a story written by AK Srikanth, follows the life of a woman named Devaduta as narrated by she herself.  Devaduta’s life started in the slums of a non-decrepit town where her beauty seemed out of place with the milieu.  Even as a young child she braved the worst that life had to offer, including a relationship with her abusive father.  Always an introverted and withdrawn child, she starts to hear a Voice that spells out the ‘path’ to her.  Devaduta runs away from her town, finds employment in a dance academy and discovers her natural talent for dancing.  The kindly Guru of this academy trains her and she blossoms into a dancer of such repute that audience and critics believe she reaches a divine plane through her art.  Devaduta also goes on to help the downtrodden with her fame and wealth.  This, coupled with the fact that she kept hearing a Voice make her known as the living Messiah, or the Prophet. 
However, one day the Voice gives her one final message and disappears from her life.  Devaduta’s world comes crumbling down.  Is it the Voice of God, or was she insane?  Was there ever a ‘Prophet’ or were they all hallucinating?  The story raises very deep and disturbing questions on what we assume for granted.
The story can be followed on two levels.  On the surface, it is the story of a woman who raised herself from the dregs only to start to doubt everything she had, once she had it all.  On a deeper level, it questions the very sanctity of the concept of a ‘Prophet’ in a world of equals. 
The performance is embellished with Rajkumar Bharati’s astounding background score – with the use of instruments as varied as the Shehnai, Zitar, Ghatam, Melodica, and the Oboe.  The musicians in the orchestra read like a who’s-who of the music world such as Pandit Ballesh, of ‘Rockstar’ fame on the Shehnai, Kartik on the Ghatam, and Embar Kannan on the violin.  It has been exquisitely mixed in Sai Shravanam’s Resound India studio, which was also the venue for the mixing of the Oscar nominated ‘Life of Pi’ soundtrack.  Savitha Sastry’s choreography and artistry raise the bar even higher than her highly lauded ‘Soul cages’ and ‘Yudh’. Without ever deviating from the language of Bharathanatyam, Savitha manages to perform the life of Devaduta, with all its complexities and drama from her early childhood to her last days.  Savitha’s amazing Abhinaya (mimetic) skills coupled with her crisp and faultless Nrtta (pure dance) make this a performance like never seen before. 
History has it that the lives of great humans start off at a point with doubt.  The doubt shapes a destiny, which leads them to divinity.  But in Srikanth’s story of ‘The Prophet’, we see that when divinity destines itself to doubt, the results are earth shattering. ‘The Prophet’ is not just a show.  It is an experience.

Why Bharatanatyam Must Change by Savitha Sastry and AK Srikanth (Sai Shree Arts)
What isn't broken needn't be fixed. But refusing to see the cracks that appear on the age old vase is at best ostrich behaviour- burying one's head in the sand and refusing to believe anything is less than perfect.  Bharatanatyam is that vase. Beautiful, centuries old, regal, carefully crafted, and yet, crumbling on a pedestal that has made it look jaded.
I have personally performed and followed Bharatanatyam in its "purest" form the world over. Outside of India it gets crowds - mostly Indian parents and their teenage children, who are being inculcated into the Indian cultural way of life; the mothers trying their hardest to prove to themselves that the move overseas has not robbed their children of their Indian-ness, the teenagers yawning with indifference.  Whatever.  In India there isn't even that indulgence. Large portion of the crowd, assuming there is one, leave midway. Many of those that remain improve their typing skills on the phone. And yet lovers of this art form, critics included, refuse to see this as a problem.
It is on this note that my husband and I started to question the fundamental paradox. If the art form was beautiful enough to be considered a cultural treasure, why was it unable to sustain the interest of the audience?  The truth dawned on us like a Nirvana.  Bharatanatyam was being used to showcase the prowess of the dancer rather than a means of entertainment. The beauty of the art form was being evaluated on a metric of the kinetics of a dancer and not on what was being said. Because frankly, nothing new had been said in three centuries! So here was our experiment.
We wrote our own story, divorced from any popular religion or mythology and delivered it in the form of a Bharatanatyam theatre experience. We called this product Soul Cages. We repeated the concept with another original story – ‘Yudh’. And these have played over 2012-13 across India to accolades that have shocked and stunned even us. They have been reviewed in every newspaper of repute in India. The shows have brought many a member of the audience to meet us at the end of the show, unashamedly shedding tears and choked with emotion.  Many have viewed ‘Soul Cages’ and ‘Yudh’ as a life altering experiences. The critics have agreed.
These productions have signalled the arrival of Sai Shree Arts, an organization that my husband Srikanth, and I have fostered. It is our aim to spread the beauty and versatility of Bharatanatyam by using it to tell meaningful and entertaining stories, rather than recount the mythological tales of yore. The production values equal the best that Broadway has to offer. The dance itself does not deviate from the purity and chastity of the grammar of Bharatanatyam. A story that may be identified with by all audience, regardless of their geography or upbringing - in short, it marked nothing short of a renaissance of Bharathanatyam.

Sai Shree Arts is now ready to bring to stage their next production – ‘The Prophet’. This production is as different from ‘Soul Cages’ or ‘Yudh’ as the last 2 have been to each other. But all these productions have one thing in common. The audience will go back with memories of having watched something far more significant than they have in any classical performance.

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'The Prophet – Destiny, Divinity, Doubt' Bharathanatyam Dance Theatre by Savitha Sastry at Kamani Auditorium, Copernicus Marg, Mandi House > 7pm to 8:15pm on 12th April 2014 'The Prophet – Destiny, Divinity, Doubt' Bharathanatyam Dance Theatre by Savitha Sastry at Kamani Auditorium, Copernicus Marg, Mandi House > 7pm to 8:15pm on 12th April 2014 Reviewed by Delhi Events on Saturday, April 12, 2014 Rating: 5

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