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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



IFFI 51, 45: Aavartan is an attempt to showcase kathak in the time of item dances

IFFI 51, 45: Aavartan is an attempt to showcase kathak in the time of item dances

Renuka, a disciple of Kathak maestro Bhawna Saraswati, begins to add a new dimension to the dance form she inherited from her. This puts Bhawna in a state of insecurity and identity crisis. Not knowing how to deal with her emotional self, she starts dejecting Renuka, making it painful for Renuka.

Renowned Kathak Dancer Padma Shri Shovana Narayan has played the role of Bhawna Saraswati in the film Aavartan, which was shown at the 51st International Film Festival of India, under Indian Panorma Feature Film section. "For me dance is my Atma, my soul and my life; I am very happy to be part of Aavartan. The film throws light on the eternal cycle of dilemmas between a guru and a disciple. It also throws light on the fact that this country has a Parampara which is more than 2,500 years old." She was addressing a press conference along with the film’s Director Durba Sahay, in Panaji, Goa.

The film ‘Aavartan’ features the cycle of Guru-Shishya Parampara - the relationship between a teacher and a disciple, a celebrated aspect in all classical art forms of India. The film covers four generations and shows how the journey of teacher-disciple begins, evolves, ends, and how a new cycle begins again.

Director Durba Sahay mentioned that the idea of the film evolved years before. “Anyone can be a guru – a singer, a painter, a dancer. But I chose dance because I have always been close to the art form Kathak. And hence I chose to narrate this aspect of Guru Shishya Parampara through the form of dance, which I love.”

How did the casting of the 117-minute film get decided? “As I began to write this script, Shovana Jee, whom I have known for many years, came to my mind. I narrated the story to her and she got ready to do it at once.”

Sahay added that she was, however, sceptical about making the veteran dancer act. “Dancing and acting are not the same. However, once we started rehearsals, I realised that she is a great actor, and that’s how Aavartan happened.”

When asked about taking dance form to every youngster and how successful the film is, the director said the motive behind the movie was also to catch the attention of the youngsters who are forgetting their roots. “I made this film so that our generation is stuck not just with item dances; I am afraid that our traditional dances may get wiped off, if our youngsters don’t pay attention and preserve them.”

Narayan spoke about how India’s 2,500-year old traditions and art forms have withstood the pressures and pulls of every age. “Film is about human emotion which is universal. At different points of time, we create something putting our heart and soul, but how does an individual react when insecurity creeps in? The tussle between human emotions resonates in everyone, in some way or the other.”

She went on to say that “The Taandav (vigorous dance that is the source of the cycle of creation) and the Lasya (dance that expresses happiness and is filled with grace and beauty) within us are asking us to create the inner balance within us. The inner balance could come within any one but we are always being exhorted to create the balance within ourselves, to be in a balanced and peaceful frame of mind.”

Shovana Narayan also mentioned that a classical dancer takes dance as a complete Yog, where one brings the spiritual, physical and mental balance within oneself.

About the Director

Durba Sahay made her directorial debut with a short film, ‘The Pen’. She produced ‘Patang’ which won a Silver Lotus in 1994. ‘Aavartan’ is her debut feature film as director.


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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