Nache Mayuri, Hamari Beti starred Sakti Swarupa Bir (aka Shakti Swaroop) and portrayed her real-life story as a girl in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha, who was deaf and speech impaired but triumphantly rose above her challenges and became an Odissi dancer. National Award-winning Odia film director/cinematographer A.K. Bir directed, scripted, and photographed the film, and Telugu film producer D. Rama Naidu produced it. While the film seems to have only been screened at some film festivals and had a very limited commercial release, luckily for us the production company Suresh Productions has posted the entire film on their YouTube channel! Distributed throughout the film is nearly 15-minutes of Odissi dance, and to my delight nearly all of them are practice dances (my favorite!) done in cotton practice saris. The careful attention to the cinematography and sound design makes the dances a gorgeous watch.
Chittaranjan Acharya (aka Prachee Chitta Ranjan Acharya or C.R. Acharyya), Sakti's real life Odissi guru and inspiration, plays himself in the film and is credited for the film's choreography. Chittaranjan is "an engineer by profession and an Odissi dance exponent by passion" who learned Odissi from Pankaj Charan Das. He still performs Odissi today with his daughter Asmita Mahapatra or his troupe. Here he is in the film demonstrating Odissi for his students—a rare male Odissi film dance!
Here is a playlist of all the lovely practice scenes in the film that depict Sakti's learning of Odissi through observation only beginning with warm-up exercises and then Odissi dance movements. Halfway through video number 3 in the playlist is the adorable song "Ta Ta Ta, Li Li Li" with playful vocals by Shreya Ghoshal. The last video, number 7, is a performance of Sakti by the ocean in full Odissi costume. I found the film as a whole melodramatic and wanting of more development, but the dance sequences are lovingly portrayed and among my favorites! Fair warning that there may be a lot of advertisements even in playlist mode, unfortunately. Any troubles with the playlist? Try watching it on YouTube here.
Swarna Kamalam (1988, Telugu) - American-born Odissi danseuse Sharon Lowen performs a surprising Odissi stage number in this film, which I wrote extensively about in this previous post.
image of the press book also credits Ravindra Atibuddhi and Shankar Behera—which must refer to the mumbai-based Odissi Guru Shankar Behera! Komal also learned Odissi in real life along with Kathak and Kuchipudi, and as a fun tidbit, she founded the still-active nonprofit organization Sparsha.
Of course, there is also Minati Mishra's Odissi dance number in the Bengali film Nirjana Saikate (1963) that I featured in last week's post. I was surprised I couldn't find more examples of Odissi dance in Bengali films given West Bengal's proximity to Odisha. Surely more are out there waiting to be discovered!
There are a few other films that have short and fleeting glimpses or inspirations of Odissi dance, such as "Thappatlo Thalalo" in Subhapradham, No. 78 Shanti Nivasa, the late Rituparno Ghosh's Chitrangada (Sharmila Biswas taught Rituparno Odissi for the film), Mira Nair's Kama Sutra (choreographed by Odissi dancer Debi Basu)...and even Michael Jackson's music video for "Black or White." And I'm still waiting for video of the Odissi dances in The Desire - Journey of a Woman (Hindi) to surface!
Further reading about Hamari Beti:
- Sakti Swarup Bir's Facebook Page - Includes this collection of press articles about her and the film.
- Chakra, Shyamhari. Impossible is Nothing: Sakti Swarupa Bir Overcomes Her Shortcomings with Her Talent. The Hindu.