The film/documentary is shot in a soft light with lengthy periods of silence and the sounds of nature contributing to a relaxing and contemplative atmosphere. Among all the sequences of Kelucharan performing solo, there are three solo female performances, what appear to be reenactments of Kelu's earlier life experiences, and many camera pans that linger on the natural environment. Quotes from various ancient texts liberally appear to give the performances context and meaning.
I feel this very artistic film went quite "over my head" in the sense that I don't have the background or language understanding to comprehend everything being presented, especially the textual quotes and mythology and their relation to the dances. I sensed that the film is trying to make a point beyond simply presenting Kelucharan, pieces of his life story, and his dance. There is quite a lot going on, despite the lingering pace. This site gives the following interpretation:
"The film begins with Shahani’s historical-materialist claim to the origins of all sculpture in performance: it has a stone sculptor chiseling a human form from a piece of stone. The human form is effectively linked to legendary Odissi dancer (and Mahapatra’s student) Sanjukta Panigrahi. Described by the director as a film ‘about hunger’, it returns the dance to both the labour that it celebrates and the improvisations that continue to defy codification and control. Many of the dances, including the spectacular Navarasa (the nine ‘rasas’ that form the sum total of Indian aesthetic experience) sequence at the end, were choreographed specially for the cinema."While I don't have any intellectual analysis to add about the film, I can say that I found many of the dances captivating, particularly those in the last 30 minutes, and I ended the viewing feeling like I had watched something mysterious and magical. While it took me a while to get warmed up to Kelu's dances, the longer I watched the more I was intrigued. Kelucharan's "gambling" enactment at 23:37 was delightful and creative. But it was the "nine rasas" performance, taking up the entire end of the film starting at 46:42, that had me spellbound. The portion starting around 50:00, where he is front-lit against the dark background, brought tears to my eyes by the end. Such emotive expression of the human body! Kelu feels it so deeply that I, the viewer, felt it too. What followed it was so interesting - almost an Odissi tandava perhaps, to my eyes and ears.
Music in Odissi dance has always struck me as being so gentle, welcoming, and peaceful, its notes always positive and uplifting. The song starting at 42:42 exemplified this for me- simply gorgeous.
I was hoping the little girl who dances near the beginning would be identified, but it wasn't clear if she was. The credits identify the dancers as Sanjukta Panigrahi, Moushami Sahoo, Sidheshwar, and Kumkum Mohanty. Clearly Sanjukta was at the beginning, Sidheshwar was the gotipua dancer, and KumKum was the student being corrected by Kelucharan... but was Moushami Sahoo the little girl? Is "Battu" a style of dance, or her character's name? Searching on that name came up with nothing, which makes me very curious!
I'm so happy that this film is finally out there for the world to see! What will be next. I would love to hear folks' interpretations about the documentary - do comment!