A cornucopia of cultural activities

Anandan Studio becomes a hub for cultural activities as it includes includes letting out the space for artists, lectures, demos, rehearsals, seminars, and programmes.

A cornucopia of cultural activities

Calcutta—the name close to my heart because of its history—or Kolkata—is abuzz with cultural activities. Relieved from the dark days of the pandemic, a plethora of cultural activities of different kinds have once again taken hold of the city.

Nitisree Boyal Kundu’s Anandan Studio is one of them. A postgraduate in dance from the prestigious Rabindra Bharati University in Jorasanko, Nitisree Boyal Kundu, and Dr Abhijit Kundu, a medical doctor, had a vision. Together, they inaugurated Anandan Studio, a unit of the Prakriti Foundation to look after needy patients, for cultural activities on 1 May this year, at 8/1 Chandra Ghosh Lane, Kolkata 700036. The vision includes letting out the space for artists, lectures, demos, rehearsals, seminars, and programmes. Director Nitisree Boyal is a Bharatanatyam practitioner, whose students Krishna Modi, Poushali Khan, and Snehalata Chakroborty made a flower offering to the Lord of Dance after the lighting of the lamp by eminent gurus like Kalavati Devi and others. The Pushpanjali was in Ragam Nattai and Talam Adi. Flautist Rick Mukherjee and percussionist Bodhimon Dasgupta created the required ambience, with Raag Bairagi Bhairav in Bilambit Jhaptaal and Drut Teen Taal following it up with a Rambhajan Dhun in Raag Pahadi. Compere Nilay Mandal, besides being an accomplished dancer, proved to be an excellent compere. Among the revered guests present were Minakshi Misra, Director, ICCR, Laily Basu, and others. Anandan Studio was strongly supported by Bharatanatyam performer Samrat Dutta. It was a brilliant start.

Sandip Mallick is a name in the Kathak firmament.


His talim speaks volumes about his dedication to Kathak. He performed for the Swar Samrat Festival dedicated to Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. Accompanying Sandip were Tabalia Rupak Bhattacharjeela, Sarodia Sunando Mukherjee, vocalist Arindam Bhattacharya, and Pakhawaj player Nishaant Singh. Sandip had started his performance with Shiva stuti, followed by Naad Vandana, a soundscape with the reference to different elements related to Lord Shiva, for example: one for the crescent moon, two for the kundal, three for the trishula and third eye, etc., and also the sound of nature with only the sound of the ghungroo. Thereafter, Uthan was played by Rupak Bhattacharya. In the pure dance in Vilambit Teental, he started with thaat aamad upaj and paran aamad, referring to the five elements. In the Madhyalaya, a series of tehai, starting from different matras, tora, chakradhar, and parans of different Gharanas like Lucknow, Jaipur, and Banaras, were showcased. Rabindra Sangeet’s “Maharaja a ki saje” displayed his aesthetic and subtle abhinaya, which was close to Tagore’s heart. Sandip was at his best.

Kalashristhi-Sujatha Ramalingam

Sujatha Ramalingam, an alumna of Kalakshetra and a famed dancer in Chandralekha’s troupe, has made Kolkata her adopted home. She runs her school, Kalashrishti, in Kolkata, which celebrated the 120th birth anniversary of legendary dancer Guru Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale. “Anusmaran II” was held in Rukmimi Devi’s remembrance on 10 April at Rabindra Sadan. The theme of the programme was Mahameru-Parikatha, the story of Kailash Parivar. The invocatory piece, a Pushpanjali in Ragan and Talam Malika, was dedicated to Ganesha, Kartikeya, Shiva, and Devi, who lived in Kailash. Very innovatively, Alaripu, set to Chatur Talam, was choreographed keeping in mind the vahanas of the gods of Kailash-Mushika, Simha, Mayura, and Nandi. Jatiswaram in Ragam Malika and Misra Chapu Talam combined rasas and pure dance. Shiva was represented by Sringara, Devi by Veera, Kartikeya by Adbhuta, and Ganesha by Hasya.

The Sabdam on Ganesha, “Om Enum Porule Umaiyavar Magane,” was performed by the young artists of the school. The most challenging piece, which proves the grit of the performer, is Varnam. Kalaimamani Pandanallur Pandiyan’s lyric on Adiparashakti—the supreme force who created Devi Saraswati from her middle eye, Devi Lakshmi from her right eye, and Devi Durga from her left eye—was the chosen piece. Raaga Malika in Purvangan, Gowlamala in Uttarangam, and Ranjanimala were the ragas used in the composition. And the Talam was Adi. Keertanam was about Lord Kartikeya. In this particular piece, six temples of Lord Kartikeya and the stories behind each temple were described. The lyrics written by Smt. Visalakshi Parasuraman was composed in Raga Malika and Talam Adi. This was followed by a Padam, which was basically a Nindastuti on Ganga in Ragam Surutti and Talam Adi. It was an Anand R. Jayaram composition, vocalised by Debopam Das. The evening ended with a Tillana on the cosmic dance of Shiva—the Pancha Bhoota, or Five Elements of Nature—integrated seamless in the piece set to the beautiful strains of Raaga Rageshree and Talam Adi-Lalgudi G. Jayraman composition.

An uncountable number of dancers made Sujatha Ramalingam’s evening. The dancers came in and out in the twinkling of an eye, creating a festive and joyful mood that passed on to everyone present. The accompanying artists of the evening included mridangist Shankar Narayanswamy, vocalist Shrikant Gopalakrishnan (Chennai), violinist Anand R. Jayaram (Trivandrum), and young flautist Rick Mukherjee. The senior disciples of Sujatha Ramalingam Biswapratim Bose, Subhajit Dutta, Karuna Ketan Bhakta, Debjit Pal, Induniva Dhawa, Sourami Mukherjee, Anandita Sengupta, Akshi Mukherjee, and Puja Chatterjee made her proud choreographing the pieces. A joint effort of this sort is praiseworthy.


With conviction in heart, ideas in mind, and zeal to succeed, Kolkata Sanved started walking on its path in 2004 to transform the lives of the most vulnerable and marginalised through dance movement therapy (DMT). The organisation has come a long way since then. It has reached out to thousands of children, young people, and adults, providing leadership and livelihood. In a two-day-long festival, they celebrated their 20 years of existence.

Sanved’s twentieth anniversary

On 28 April, Sanved presented Yatra, choreographed by Dr Urmimala Sarkar Munshi and Vikram Iyengar, and Tanashah, a solo performance by Navtej Johar, at Birla Sabhaghar.

Yatra was innovative and conceptualised in a unique manner. It was inclusive. The performers and the audience were part of it. The performance place did not remain confined to the proscenium stage only. Dancers and performers spilled over to the sitting area, finally giving a call to one and all to be a part of it too. Yatra was, in fact, a tapestry of movement, taking the personal stories of the dancers about their individual journeys with Kolkata Sanved as the starting point. Each story was one-of-a-kind, and yet they all had common and overlapping threads and experiences. The choreography was an attempt to map this in space and time, as the dancers move simultaneously along routes that sometimes come together, often diverge, and always respond to a chorus of rhythms and melodies that reflect both individual and collective voices and ways of being.

Zoning in of two songs—the Sufi ‘Maula-e-kul’ and the Rabindra Sangeet ‘Aro Aro Probhu’—used i in parts and variously to create an underlying conviction and belief that drove the dancers, as well as their mischievous desire for challenge, was beautiful. The yatra, or journey, was suitably suggested by the orchestration and arrangement. Yatra has established itself as a pioneer and leader in implementing DMT for mental health, gender equity, and social transformation.

Tanashah of Navtej Johar is a work of art that had its installation here in Kolkata in front of an admiring audience who savoured every bit of it. A passionate young man, Johar, was drawn to his protagonist after seeing the picture of, what appeared to him, an innocent shy boy authenticated by his (Bhagat Singh) writings in his prison diary, which speak of his issues that affect the future. His determination for his country’s nationalism, which was like no other, drew Navtej to him. He identified himself with this young Sikh who wore a turban. His hero had, early in life, found the folly of faith and challenged religion and its construct. His voice in Tanashah was in sync with Bhagat.

Navetej Johar has ignited the inherent eclectic imagination of the people. He needs to perform here more often.

The writer is a senior dance critic