‘Dance Unlocked,’ a short film conceptualised by Mallika Sarabhai, has 24 eminent Indian dancers performing


Danseuse Mallika Sarabhai proves that no lockdown can rein in an artiste. In a short film, ‘Dance Unlocked’, which brings collectively famend Indian dancers of various genres, she demonstrates aesthetically how artwork liberates, unifies and celebrates inventive ingenuity.

Kumudini Lakhia, the Dhananjayans, Anita Ratnam, Aditi Mangaldas, Kalamandalam Balasubamaniam, Madhavi Mudgal, Priti Patel, Mallika Sarabhai, Geeta Chandran, Vaibhav Arekar, Astad Deboo, Rima Kallingal and Jayendran Palazhi are a number of the dancers within the film.

Directed and edited by Yadavan Chandran and conceptualised by Yadavan and Mallika herself, ‘Dance Unlocked’ is a marvellous tribute to every of the good names taking part within the film and to bounce itself.

‘That was a world of greed, of want, of winning, of more, more, more. This must be the world of caring, of giving, of sharing, of cooperation and generosity. Towards this new world, Darpana and Natarani bring you the dance of togetherness and reaching out. May the spirit of dance liberate you’, goes the introduction to the film.

 “We don’t know what the future is going to be like and when there will be classes and programmes. There is Darpana (dance institute) and Natarani (the auditorium). This is not a problem that concerns dancers or musicians alone. It concerns humanity. We wondered what we could do to address the situation and came up with a concept that would involve as many dancers as possible,” says Mallika over cellphone from Ahmedabad.

Spirit of re-emergence

They have been eager on visualising a idea that will be a sort of resistance to the current scenario, to point out that humanity would survive and the humanities in a number of types would come out of this gloomy state of affairs and assist folks to return out of it as effectively.

As quickly as Yadavan and Mallika got here up with the idea, they obtained down to picking the music. Yadavan says they’d been eager to work with musician Tanmoy Bose for a very long time. “In fact, Tanmoy himself had forgotten about this album, ‘Taaltantra’, when I reminded him about it. He was enthusiastic about it and immediately agreed. So, as soon as Mallika got in touch with all the dancers she knew, we were able to send them the music, ‘Rivulets of innocence’ from the album,” says Yadavan.

Mallika factors out that what is exclusive about ‘Rivulets of innocence’ is that it’s all in chathurashra tala (beat), which made it straightforward for the dancers to choreograph. Each of the dancers have been requested to bounce to a temper and color that they related the music with.

“We asked them for a word that they believed defined the situation as it is now and perhaps looked forward to the future, something they would identify this period with and a colour as well. I also requested them to use a prop or something in their frame that signified that colour. Not all could bring that in and so I went in for graphic representations. The entire process was something out of the box, for us and the dancers involved. In many cases, I had to go into their homes through their phones to see interesting angles, corners and terraces to see which place would look good on camera. The filmmaker in me was telling them how to shoot, where to place the camera, what technology to use …,” says Yadavan, as he tries to clarify the exhilaration he felt about working with the maestros.

So it went from side to side amongst 30 dancers until they lastly determined to go forward with 24. Mallika factors out that what enthused her was that not a single dancer stated no, and none wished to know who else can be there within the video. “Even somebody like Kumudini Lakhia, who has not carried out for a while, gamely participated. That was the sense of objective all of the dancers had. Did you see how I purchased Amma into it?” she asks, referring to a body that has Mallika dancing in entrance of a life-size portrait of her mom, the late Mrinalini Sarabhai.


Within 5 days, they’d all of the movies of the dancers. Yadavan factors out that these have been all their selections. He wished it to be their participation and the way they reacted to the music.

“Movement-wise, of course, they all come from very different genres of dance. It was a challenge to craft something that resembled a storyline or a narrative because each one reacted to the music very differently. I kept it as close to their version as possible,” explains Yadavan.

In 4 days, the post-production work on the film was accomplished. Although none of them had a clue how the completed product can be, as soon as it was accomplished, they realised this was one thing particular. Yadavan says what adopted was the nicest a part of the entire train.

“Each of them wrote to me saying how much they enjoyed it. Everybody is looking forward to doing more such work. They only did their 30-second bit. Now, they are all excited that they are a part of something like this,” he says.

Yadavan recollects how Kathakali veteran Kalamandalam Balasubrahmanyam initially discovered it tough to work with the expertise. Moreover, he needed to work with a piece of music that was out of his area. But as soon as Yadavan satisfied him, he was keen to collaborate. The filmmaker provides: “He is over the moon about the finished product. It is perhaps for the first time that he is part of an ensemble like this. People who are in these island today because of the isolation suddenly feel connected to each other. And I see that camaraderie coming through too because many of them have never worked with each other before.”

‘Dance Unlocked’ was launched on Darpana’s Facebook web page and channel and shared by the greats within the film.

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