Uday Shankar’s Kalpana

When 18 Sep 2018
7:00PM - 9:35PM
Where Light Industry
155 Freeman Street
Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY 11222
United States

Introduced by Shai Heredia

Kalpana, Uday Shankar, 1948, digital projection, 155 mins

“A dance spectacular, four years in the making, orchestrated by India’s most famous modern dancer (and brother of Ravi Shankar). The narrative of the surreal fantasy is embedded within a framing story of a writer telling a story to a film producer, who eventually declines to make the movie. The writer tells of Udayan (Shankar) and Kamini (Kanta) and the young man’s dream of establishing an art center, Kalakendra (a fictional equivalent of Shankar’s India Cultural Centre at Almora) in the Himalayas. Shot in the Gemini Studios in Madras, this ode to creative imagination mobilizes the vocabulary of traditional dancing, which doubles as a metaphor for the dreams invested in the newly independent India. The choreography was specifically designed for the camera, with semi-expressionist angles and chiaroscuro effects, and became a model for later dance spectaculars like Chandralekha (also made at Gemini and shot by Ramnoth, 1948) and the dream sequence in Raj Kapoor’s Awara (1951). For many years, the unusual film was seen as exemplifying a successful fusion of Indian modernism and the cinema. Shankar, who had danced with Pavlova, was lauded by James Joyce in a letter to his daughter: ‘He moves on the stage like a semi-divine being. Believe me, there are still some beautiful things left in this poor old world.’” – Ashish Rajadhyaksha and Paul Willemen

Shai Heredia is a filmmaker, curator, and founder of Experimenta, the international festival for experimental cinema in India. She is currently the programmer for the 2019 Flaherty Seminar.

Tickets – $8, available at door.

Image courtesy of the organizer.

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