10 comments on “Returning To: Padmini’s Navarasa, Classical Dancing to Sia, and Bollywood Raag Yaman (plus)

  1. I’ll admit I didn’t have the time (or the energy – I’m really under the weather right now) to go beyond the first video, but oh, how good Padmini was there! I was reminded of a Kathakali performance I watched in Kochi a few years back in which the navrasas were enacted. OTT, I agree, but oddly enough still very effective. And somehow it fits into the traditional dance form(s) well.

  2. At last, a place where we can agree about Padmini! :) Well, this is what she did best.

    That’s interesting re. the Kathakali Navarasa. Yes, Kathakali is extremely theatrical, with those giant masks and everything.

    I’m sure the Travancore Sisters must have seen plenty of Kathakali, since that is a dance native to their Kerala (as opposed to Bharatanatyam). I think I saw at least one Padmini-Ragini film dance, from a Malayalam film, that was highly influenced by Kathakali. (Though it’s traditionally a male dance form. The women’s dance is Mohiniyattam. I know Padmini and Ragini did that too.)

    Maybe some day I’ll get to watch a Kathakali dance in Kerala. *sigh*

    BTW, Madhu, it’s OK that you didn’t watch all of these (pretty different) videos. :) I actually just got over a bad cold a few days ago. I hope you get back above your weather soon!

  3. I was watching a dance performance by Shobhana, and was suddenly reminded of her aunt. So I came back here to watch one of Padmini’s performances. :) It’s amazing to see how gracefully she moved, and how the expressions flit across her face like quicksilver. You’re indeed right that Bharatanatyam has its roots in theatrical traditions. Considering that the audience had to know what was being sung, it was important that the expressions were larger than life.

    I’m always amazed at the videos you pull up. I mean, here I am, the South Indian, and I’m looking to you to give me my dose of the Travancore sisters. :)

  4. Anu, that’s a good point re. it being important that the expressions were larger than life, and I like the words you used to describe the quality of her dance – the amazing gracefulness and the expressions “flitting” like “quicksilver.” Yes! :)

    And thank you for your comment about being amazed by the videos I post. I did go pretty crazy over the Travancore Sisters, starting about a decade ago, so I looked for every dance I could find by them and especially by Padmini – on YouTube and in the Bollywood DVD stores in Jackson Heights, Queens (which are, unfortunately, almost all gone now). And I also found out that some fellow Travancore Sister/Padmini fans are pretty good at exchanging information and/or videos. :)

    But think it’s been a while since I put any Tavancore Sisters in a post; in fact, I started to feel that I was neglecting them!

  5. Thank you, Swarup. That’s a nice article, and It’s good to see Padmini confirming that her Navarasa was as important as I thought it was. :) I found it a little sad at the end of the interview, when they talk about possible plans for her future visits, because I knew that the date of the article was just two about two years before Padmini died. I don’t know how serious Mahendra’s offer really was, but I quickly searched for anything that the two might have done together, and all I found was this interview. So if some future collaboration was seriously being contemplated, I guess there never was a chance for it to be realized.

  6. I learned Bharathnatyam dancing from Padmini and to see her to the Navarasa dance item was real treat!

  7. Thank you, Sujataha. It’s delightful to hear from someone who learned Bharatanatyam from Padmini. If you have any stories from that experience, please feel free to send them along! :)

  8. padmini learnt kathakali at the age of 4. she learnt bharatnatyam when she was 10

  9. Ananya, thanks for that info (and sorry about my delay in pushing your comment through the WordPress filter :) ). Yes, Padmini learned Kathakali when she was only four years old – I did a search on that, and other sites confirmed it, too. That’s pretty impressive, but actually, I’m not all that surprised. :)

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