Indian classical dances are mostly associated with tales of the gods and the goddesses and it is rare that we see an artist who will bring out social issues and talk about the environment through his or her performances and shows. Renowned Kathak exponent Neha Banerjee is one of the rare gems in the world of dance who is well aware of her social responsibility as a dancer.
Neha who is a star pupil of Padma Vibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj always makes special efforts to send out a message to the world through her dance performance. Be it her shows like Sairandhari, Dancing Waters, or now Megh Akhyayika. She has taken the traditional art of Kathak to a totally new level with her web dance performance show which is a tale of a cloud leaving behind a fantastic message of water conservation.
Megh-Akhyayika is a five-part web dance Performance series that celebrates the Monsoon season-An acknowledgment that water is the most important creator of life on this planet and there can be no life without it. This Musical extravaganza brings together original music score of soulful Hindustani music, Beautiful ornate digital sets, and elegant and awe-inspiring kathak dance by Neha herself supported by Kathak dancer Ayan Banerjee. Powered by the latest cutting-edge technology in animation and computer graphics, this magnum opus will be a one-of-a-kind web performance series that has never been seen or experienced in the Indian Classical field before.
Talking of Megh Akhyayika Neha said, ‘Prior to this, I had performed Dancing Water with Padmashree Shivamani which also revolved around water conservation but, the concept needed change considering COVID-19 as stage performance are not possible for a while, thus I thought of this concept which gave me an opportunity to connect with world audience and to make an ever-lasting show on the web platform.’
The nibble-footed dancer further added, ‘This show has five different performances with five various themes all revolving around water and its effects, I can assure you that 360-degree visual treat of Megh Akyayika will leave you totally spell bounded. Each video is and each concept has been thought for deeply and months of work has gone into making this visual extravaganza.’
The show is based on Raag Megh, this tantalising video is a celebration of bringing in the monsoons. The smell of the soil, the dance of the peacock, and the cool breeze that envelopes us- All are a celebration welcoming the rains. So do see it on YouTube and join in the celebrations!
Show two is about Puriyadhanashri, based on Raag- Puriya Dhanashri. In a mystical world of possibilities, the viewers are transported to fantasy land. Where the moon meets the clouds under the twinkling stars. The dancer rejoices in the playful movement of the clouds and finds a part of the cloud within her-And dances like a cloud!
Episode three is Jog, that feeling of being in love. That feeling of being a part of the long-gone royal opulence and luxury. Based on Raag Jog, this is an invitation to play with the other. To notice and to acknowledge each other’s presence and to feel in oneness and communion. As the two dancers celebrate their communion, the universe dances with them too.
Episode four is Hemwati Parched is our land devoid of water. Nothing grows, nothing lives. What is left behind are Ruins and carcasses. These ruins embodied by the dancers describe their horror of what they see. Without rain, there is no life. And without life, there is no dance and music. Based on Raag- Hemwati, don’t miss this one as the dancers tell the painful tale of the shortage of water.
Last but not least episode five, is about no matter how dark the present is, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Earth which was dying, can recover itself and again bloom in the spring of creation. Yet again, the birds can sing and the peacock can dance in the rain. This concluding episode is all about celebrating life on earth. And sending a clear message that we all are alive because we have water in our lives.
After seeing his Sishya’s path-breaking wed show Padma Vibhushan Pandit Maharaj Said, ‘Neha always thinks of great concepts in Kathak and is constantly doing shows, performances and workshops through her institute Kathak Darpan. This kind of virtual visual show has never been done in Kathak before. I am extremely proud of Neha for reaching out to the new generation through this new medium of dance performance.’
Adding to the words of Maharaj Ji, renowned Kathak Guru Saswati Sen Said, ‘Neha is one artist who is who always thinks out of the box, and Meg Akyayika is the result of that, this show is not only a visual treat for the viewers but it shows Kathak in a totally new format. The Kathak dance community is proud of Neha and her efforts to reach out to the global audience with such finesse.’
It is not just Neha Banerjee who has made ‘Megh-Akhyayika’ the first 360-degree kathak virtual visual show but, there are a whole lot of people who helped her put it all together. Yes, of course, the Dance, choreographer, and concept are of Neha Banerjee, it is Produced by Kathak Darpan Trust, supporting dance by Ayan Banerjee, Music and Recording by Vivek Mishra & Team, #d Animation, visual effects and lights Gyandev Singh, Public Relation and Promotion by Parul Chawal’s Pikture & Kraft in Mumbai and by Satish Jupiter’s Jupiter Events in Chennai.
I suggest if you have not seen this show with a message on water conservation depicted through animation in Kathak style of Indian classical dance by Neha Banerjee, then you surely have missed out on something extraordinary and astonishing. Take my advice and right away hit the search button and look for Megh Akyayika on YouTube, this show is available free for all dance lovers and dance enthusiasts to learn from and take back a very important message.