KOLKATA/CALCUTTA TUBE: Dance numbers on Bengali cinema and television are confined to acrobatic gyrations, pelvic shakes and circus acts. But a few films are exceptional. One of them is Natobar Not Out. The song-dance number megher palok chaander nolok kagojer kheya bhashchhey is one of the most aesthetically composed, choreographed and positioned dance numbers in Bengali cinema in recent times. The the creative dancer who authored this creation is Sukalyan Bhattacharya who lives partly in India and partly divides his time between Canada and the United States. Sukalyan is a multi-talented man who has done the choreography for ten Bengali films. He has spread his wings to choreograph, direct and train for plays like Ruddha Sangeet and Hamlet (in Edmonton), fashion shows like Sananda-Tilottama awards and music videos like Lopamudra’s The Ecstasy and Bhupen Hazarika’s Our North East, Our Star shot across the North East with music composed by Shantanu Moitra.

Tell us about your composition for the Natobar Not Out number.
For films, I often have to work with actresses who are not dancers and definitely without a classical base. I conceived of a continuous flow of action for Raima and the chorus dancers. It was a fantasy scene and Amit Sen, the director, gave me a free hand to explore its aesthetic possibilities. I chose flowing, pure white, near-diaphanous lengths of cloth for the costumes to produce a feeling of grace that would conceal the lack of dance training in the main dancer. It also lent an aura of purity symbolic of the character Raima played. I created a very original make-up style. I kept one side of the dancers’ faces plain with little make-up. The other half of the face was painted in white alpana designs. The song was beautifully composed. The lyrics were poetic and full of dreams, the placing of the song was just right. The costume, the make-up and the flowing movements of the dance did the rest.

What films are you working on now?
I have just completed the choreography for Anik Dutta’s Bhooter Bhabishyat. It is a delightful film full of punch where the main characters are ghosts. My dance numbers are around Mumtaz Sorcar, the youngest daughter of magician P.C. Sorcar Junior who is a trained dancer. She is a very dedicated. Anik Dutta knows the discipline of filmmaking as he has been making ad films for long and is open to innovative ideas. I thoroughly enjoyed making the film.

You are also choreographing for Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s under-production Hindi film Woh, a celluloid adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore’s Shey aren’t you?
Yes. We shot in Purulia which is an all-time favourite of Buddha-da. I had to train 40 local Chhou performers. They are skilled artists for whom, dance is the only way of life. But the training was needed because I am contemporizing Chhou to suit the ambience of the film which is contemporary. It was a completely new experience for me.

Which are the other films you have choreographed for?
I am very proud of having choreographed and trained some of the best dancers for their films. Among them are Jayapradha, who I trained and choreographed for in Shesh Sanghat directed by Ashoke Viswanathan. I have choreographed and composed for Debasree Roy in Jey Jon Thakey Majhkhane and Rituparna Sengupta in Tarun Majumdar’s Alo. I am grateful to director Ravi Ojha who first gave me the chance to choreograph for his first feature film, Abar Ashbo Phire (2003).

Shoma A. Chatterji

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