President Pranab Mukherjee's daughter and endowed Kathak dancer Sharmistha Mukherjee will blend Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's poetry with a Percy Bysshe Shelley poem in a performance to celebrate the poet's birth anniversary at a new 1,700-seater auditorium to be inaugurated by Chief Minister Manik Sarkar here Friday.
Mukherjee, with six co-dancers, will present her "Rainstorm and Autumn Leaves" dance-drama based on Tagore's "Borsho Shesh", which was inspired by Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind" as part of a 15-day cultural festival.
" 'Rainstorm and Autumn Leaves' is an attempt to bring together diverse elements, poems of two world famous poets from the East and the West in two different languages, two completely different genres of music - Rabindra Sangeet and Western Classical music containing excerpts of Antonio Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons'"," Mukherjee told IANS in an e-mail communication.
"'Rainstorm and Autumn Leaves would be interpreted through the idiom of Kathak, an Indian classical dance form. It is truly an experimental effort to go beyond the conventional and to explore uncharted territories," said Mukherjee, who has performed extensively in India and abroad including in the US, China, Nepal, Bangladesh, Jordan and Indonesia, as also in Europe and the Middle East.
"Borsho Shesh" a poem included in "Kalpana", one of Tagore's collections of poems, is a perennial favourite among the poet's admirers. Written on the last day of the Bengali year 1305 - mid-April 1898 - the poem celebrates the various hues of the Bengal's "Chaitra" storm, known as "Kalboishakhi" (Nor'wester).
"Kalboishakhi" is known for its power of destruction and Tagore weaves words to portray that picture. Destruction paves way for creation, death creates space for life and somewhere in the poem, the violent and thunderous voice of the storm slowly gets transformed into music for celebration of a free and new life.
Shelley completed the "Ode To The West Wind" in the autumn of 1819 when he was in the Arno forest near Florence,
"There is a clear and close connection between the two poems of the two great bards in terms of philosophy and the metaphors used. In both the poems the imagery of a powerful storm is used metaphorically as an agent of destruction to pave the way for a new creation," said Mukherjee, who has received extensive training in Kathak from three of its prominent gurus - Late Pandit Durgalal, Vidushi Uma Sharma and Rajendra Gangani.
An empanelled artist of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Mukherjee has also performed in numerous programmes in Madagascar, Germany, Spain, Norway, Venezuela and South Africa, as also in East Africa.
Her creativity took a new direction when she conceptualised and directed a six-episode tele-serial 'Taal Mel', reflecting on various components of dance which are universal. She was the executive producer of the film "Children of the Pyre" made by noted director Rajesh Jala which has won many international awards. Mukherjee has also co-directed "Beyond Tradition", a film on contemporary dance in India.
"Sharmistha Mukherjee is a famous creative artist in India. She has demonstrated a new form of dance by integrating the images of poems and plays of different regions and countries," said renowned cultural personality Swapan Nandy.
"The people of Tripura are keenly waiting to observe 'Rainstorm and Autumn Leaves' in Agartala," Nandy told IANS.
The cultural festival is being organised by the Tripura government in connection with the inauguration of the famous Rabindra Satabarshiki Bhavan, which along with two art galleries, were rebuilt at a cost of Rs 32.15 crore.
Over 1,000 artists, singers, dancers from Delhi, West Bengal, Assam and Tripura, as also Bangladesh, will perform during the festival.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at email@example.com)