When culture meets the silver screens

For those of you who love the idea of presenting culture through cinema, I bet this post could raise debates.

Like music, I believe dances also connect people. It is representative of personality and best describes one’s identity.Be it Salsa, the tango or even forms of Indian classical dance like Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi etc. Each form is unique and helps create a mood.

In cinema, dances not only keep the plot going, but also describes the mood displayed. To me, dance in cinema has been presented in a few standard formats: as a plot, scene, and sometimes a means to to take the story forward. Plots – these are movies that revolve around the dance. A few of my most preferred examples in this regard would be Kamal Hassan’s Saagara Sangamam, and probably, Mohanlal’s Kamaladalam. A variety of such movies have been made on art forms like Kudiyattam, Kathakali, etc. These movies often depict the form in the best essence. Thereby giving the audiences more or less an authentic visual treat of the dance form.

Scenes refer to dances which are often merely a continuous sequence of events. Like the dances performed at weddings, carnivals etc. They are most often used to exaggerate the fun or sometimes even create a sense of excitement.

Finally, dances, are often used meaninglessly so as to drag the plot for a longer period of time. The question that now rises, is – have such dances actually led to newer forms of dance? Bollywood dance for instance, is merely inspired by the dances shown in cinema that are most often choreographed by dancers trained in other forms of dance. (Interesting!).

Also, has cinema actually created a sense of awareness and respect for some of our the nation’s most treasured art forms? If they have, why did the movie Notebook (a malayalam movie) depict Mohiniyattam and Kathakali artists as wanna-be break dancers? (Check out the song – Changaathykoottam from the movie directed by Rosshan Andrrews).

Cinema, aims at representing reality. Not matter how fictious a situation might be, it strives towards making it believeable. So why not apply the same concept of “reality in reelity” when presenting a form of dance?

In the end, I believe any art has to be presented in the best light so as to add meaning and authenticity to the art. Cinema has the right to juggle between authenticity and popularity. However, being the powerful medium that it is, it should probably refrain from such publicity and focus on a more fair approach the representation of dance. Especially, if it is a classical form. If need be, it could even consider doing without it. (Not all dreams need to have the lady love performing Kathak!).

The next time, you see a dance sequence, ask yourself – is it apt? Was it worth it? Or could the scene be presented differently?

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