Dance drama Tejonidhi to mark 150th birth anniversary of Vivekananda
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There is a famous story from Swami Vivekananda's childhood. As a child, Vivekananda was very impressed by the well-dressed coachmen in the mid-1800s. So he said to his mother Bhuvaneswari Devi one day, "I want to be a coachman when I grow up." To this, his mother had replied, "If you want to be a coachman, be the kind Lord Krishna was to Arjuna. Faced with a fratricidal war, a despondent Arjuna turned to his charioteer Krishna for counsel on the battlefield. Krishna, through the course of the Gita, imparted to Arjuna wisdom, the path to devotion, and the doctrine of selfless action." This was probably one of the defining moments in the life of Swami Vivekananda, whose 150th birth anniversary year is being celebrated pan-India with aplomb.
In Pune, Bharatnatyam exponent Swati Daithankar will be presenting a dance-drama titled Tejonidhi — a musical take on the life and philosophy of Vivekananda. An hour-long performance, the dance-drama will be a combination of songs, dance, theatre, narrative and running visuals. Daithankar, who has been giving Bharatanatyam performances for over 25 years now, is very excited about the new venture. "It all began when I was giving a performance on the life of the great poet Surdas. Incidentally, a member of Swami Vivekananda Sardh Shati Samaroh Samiti was present in the audience. He liked my work, and approached me to do a similar dance-drama feature on the life of Swami ji," explains Daithankar.
The performance will have 11 women Bharatanatyam dancers playing various roles on stage, including that of Swami Vivekananda himself. Daithankar, who says that it was a conscious decision to have a woman play the philosopher's role, says, "I wanted to break the boundaries of theatre, in a way. My daughter Nupur Daithankar is playing the role of Swami ji in the play. As the lead character will be seen mostly reminiscing, exploring and interacting with the audience, the gender of the actor hardly matters, indeed the audience will stop noticing it after a while," she says.
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