Finally, thanks to Minai, we get to see clips of Kamala dancing during her legendary “Baby” prodigy days of the early ’40s. Specifically, there are two scenes up from 1943. One, her short dance in Kismet, was actually a major breakthrough for her, but I think the other, from Ram Rajya, is even better.
For a long time, I have wondered why we never got to see any Kamala dances on YouTube or Dailymotion that came from films made before 1947. (There is one scene on YouTube from the Tamil version of Meera, which came out in 1945, but it only shows Kamala briefly standing in her Kirishna pose. Nivedita aka Alaknanda posted great dances from the Hindi version of that movie, but that came out in 1947. And, of course, you can find Kamala’s dances from Naam Iruvar (1947), but the best dances aren’t even separated; they have to be found somewhere in the middle of full, ten-plus-minute installments of the film.) Historically, it was BABY Kamala who made bharatanatyam a popular and respectable ingredient in Indian cinema, and BABY Kamala whose influence via cinema led many parents to send their small girls for bharatanatyam training way back in the early ’40s, at least five years before anyone got to see films featuring the Travancore Sisters or Vyjayanthimala. So why haven’t we gotten to see those earlier dances online?
Clearly, from what Minai says, it’s not lack of availability, since the VCDs for these films are available from Induna. So, the only answer is simple neglect. But Minai has somewhat corrected that problem (not only on her blog but on YouTube also, or at least it seems this is her site, despite the mysteriously different user name).
And by the way, I was so inspired by seeing these new postings of Baby Kamala, that I finally put together a Kamala playlist. There are only 19 videos in this one (with only 17 that have Kamla’s fantastic dancing, while two just have those brief flashes of her dressed up as Krishna in the middle of beautiful songs by M.S. Subbulaxmi – but how could I not include those also?)… Still, that’s probably more than twice as many as I would have hoped to find online just a year ago. And it would be great to be able to add more to that list sometime…