A Better Quality Bala AND Sanchari, Bamboo Flute, and Kuchipudi Revisited Posted Full Length!

Friday, June 8, 2012
What a coincidence!  I just discovered that not even a month after I had posted Bala (1976) on YouTube a much better-quality version was posted by the imagineindia channel which appears to be linked with the "Imagine India International Film Festival Madrid" that took place in May.  The quality of their version is excellent with no pixelation or compression, sound perfectly synched, and a rose-tinted sepia appearance.  If only I would have waited a few weeks it would have already been up online, amazing!  Oh 2012, my love for you has no bounds!

Update: Video removed/channel no longer available

Imagineindia's channel also has what I understand is another rare film of Satyajit Ray, Pikoo's Diary.  Other non-related channels have uploaded Sukumar Ray and The Inner Eye, both also quite rare apparently.

While that is quite awesome, I am even more excited to see that Sanchari, Bamboo Flute, and Kuchipudi Revisited are now all posted full length! I was so excited about the discovery of the full-length Bhavantarana on Monday that I didn't check to see if any other Indian Diplomacy hosted documentaries I blogged about had been posted in full!

Sanchari (1991, Dir: Arun Khopkar) - A beautifully-shot look at Bharatanatyam.  The beginning features some nice practice scenes (the dancers at 3:47 are my favorite- those jumps!), and starting at 5:51 the focus shifts entirely to Leela Samson; first with scenes of her getting ready for a performance, and then 23 minutes of solid Bharatanatyam performance with some brief interruptions.  My only irritation with the video is that, unlike the preview clip, it appears to "shake" left and right and some of the lower-frequency voices sound warbled.  I left a comment about it on YouTube but I don't think the uploaders understood what I was saying! I think something went wrong when it was encoded or uploaded, given that the preview clip is fine.  For those who might not know, Leela Samson is a very-well known member of the classical dance community in India.  In addition to being the chairperson of the Sangeet Natak Akademi and the former director of Kalakshetra (from 2005 to her controversial resignation  in April), she also is currently the chairperson of the Indian Central Board of Film Certification!

Bamboo Flute (2000, Dir: Kumar Shahani) - "A musical journey into the history, myth and evocations of the melodic rhythms of the flute," this two-part film features some beautiful dances by Bharatanatyam artist Alarmel Valli and the late Odissi Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra accompanied not to traditional Carnatic music but to the flute melodies of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia.

In part one, Alarmel Valli begins dancing at 2:00.  The striking and precariously-seated rock that she soon dances next to is the "balancing rock" in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu.

In part two, Alarmel Valli performs starting at 10:23 and Kelucharan Mohapatra from 23:08 to the end of the film.  According to an interview with Kumar Shahani, both Valli and Mohaptra apparently conceptualized/choreographed their own dances.  Shahani specifically asked Valli to give "Vatapi Ganapatim" including a ghatam accompaniment a "manifestation through the dance" (The Hindu).

Kuchipudi Revisited (1998, Dir: Yamini Krishnamurthy) - In this documentary, "Swapna Sundari, one of the renowned exponents of Kuchipudi, traces the origin, evolution and changing nuances of the dance form..." I love listening to the teacher (V. Radhey Shyam) reciting the rhythmic syllables (sollukattus) at 8:30; he is thrilling to watch and so natural and playful.  At 12:19 Swapna demonstrates a Tarangam number--that classic Kuchipudi style where the dancer balances on the edges of a plate.  But my favorite portion starts at 26:07 when two dancers demonstrate the differences between Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi--a subject that confuses all newcomers to Indian Classical Dance!  Leela Venkataraman's interview clips interspersed throughout are nice to watch; she seems so approachable and down-to-earth and makes some interesting observations about the form and its history.  Vedantam Satyanarayana Sarma, the famous practitioner of female impersonation in Kuchipudi and whose images are seen in many books on Kuchipudi, can be seen performing at 55:03.


  1. Minai,
    You probably want to update the Sanchari link to this one:
    Since the earlier link has become private.

    1. Thanks for the heads up! I thought it was strange there were two identical versions of the video when I first embedded it. The second version had all the dead space at the beginning removed, so they must have made the other version private instead of deleting it. I updated my post. Thanks again!

  2. It is awesome that all of the other Ray documentaries including the one on Tagore are available now on YouTube. A lifelong search ends finally.


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