New Delhi: Sringaram, the Tamil film that has been included in the competition section of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) beginning at Goa from November 23, is a work of many 'surprises.' ''We just took many bold steps asking many veteran artistes to do a job which they had not done before,'' says debutant Director Sharda Ramanathan. '' Many were surpised to know that Saroj Khan, who is a roaring success as choreographer in Bollywood commercial films, has done the choreography of my film, which has classical dances intricately woven in its fabric,'' she said.
The film is based on the Devdasi tradition in south Indian temples. Devdasi were temple dancers, a profession which they did not take up by choice but were born into. Their vulnerable situation often resulted in their sexual exploitation. The devdasis were the repositories of the traditional arts, especially classical music and dance. ''The theme of the film had ample scope for classical dances, and when I went in for Saroj Khan, it left many surprised.''
Saroj Khan told UNI that she had initially refused to do the job, but was persuaded by Sharda who is her close friend, to take it up as a challenge. She said she will not do the film without her, and then she had to cede to her request, said Ms Khan, adding that she put in 20 hours a day to deliver the result Sharda wanted. She has worked hard and now it is for the people to decide how far she has succeeded, said Ms Khan. It is also for the first time that Lalgudi Jairam, a veteran classical violinist has composed music for a feature film.
Mr Jairam, the Ravi Shakar of South India, has given a quaint touch to the music of the film, set in the backdrop of 19th century South India temple culture. ''I went in for Jairam to do the music for the film as I wanted to recreate the spirit of the era, of the locale in which the heroin of the film, a devdasi in a temple, lives,'' said Sharda. Mr Jairaman has used only natural instruments. It is absolutely unplugged, said the director. '' The story line revolves round the woman, how she reacts to the system in which she is born into and why and how she takes a path as an aritiste and as a woman,'' said Ms Ramanathan.
The lead role of devdasi Madhura is played by accomplished Bharata Natyam dancer Aditi Rao Hydari, who is, however, a newcomer to the world of cinema. Lyricist Swativar Mani is also a first timer. However, another key character Jayan is not new to the celluloid world. He is one of the most well-known and talented artistes of the Malayalam cinema. Ms Ramnathan said her film is an attempt to give people a peep into the cultural past of the country that boasts of 5000 year-old history. '' The history we generally study in schools is basically political and martial history. It mainly concerns itself with who suceeded whom and who defeated whom, but much lies beneath this surface, which we should discover,'' she said. The India panoram includes 20 films in the feature and non-feature section of the IFFI. Sringaram is in the competition section of the Asian, African and Latin American films.
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