Prabal Gupta’s lec- dem at Bangalore School of Architecture
- Avijit Das, Bangalore

April 16, 2012

Prabal Gupta, a Bangalore based Kathakali exponent, presented his paper “Usage of space and influence of Architecture on Indian classical dance” on March 30, 2012 at Bangalore School of Architecture. Prabal started the lecture demonstration with an explanation of the usage of space through motion. In the process of explaining how motion has both spatial and temporal aspects, how human body has an unchanging identity in space, the artist used “Pandattam” or dance with an imaginary ball. Thrusting his hand in a vacuum against the pressure, the dancer with eye enumerated the movement and the velocity of the ball, thereby creating an active space which was temporarily passive in the eye of rasikas, became one with the dancer and entered onto the “space” created by the dancer.
Prabal explained the square and the rectangular dimension being followed by Kathakali. He described the geometric dimension of the formation of the rectangle by first moving onto the second corner of the rectangle, the third, and finally coming back to the first corner touching all the four points.

The artist taught the basic nritta units of Kathakali to the students and also made them feel they were making a circle while doing “chuzhippu” (the exercise regularly and vigourously practised in Kathakali to master the circular movements so indigenous to the art form).

While elucidating the influence of architecture in Indian classical dance, the illustrator quoted circular and rectangular architectural pattern of the temples of Kerala that resulted in the movements of the dance forms of Kerala Koodiyattam, Krishnattam, Ramanattam that got transformed into the present day Kathakali and Mohiniattam along with the female folk form Kaikottikali and the other male folk forms like Theyyam being circular and rectangular.

Gupta explained how the linear temple architectural pattern of the temples of Tamil Nadu has invariably influenced the geometric patterns of Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam. Likewise also the linear circular temple architecture of Jagannatha Temple at Puri has influenced the geometric movements of Odissi and perhaps the square architecture of the Konark temple has influenced the squarish chowks of Odissi.

Prabal gradually shifted his presentation to the origin of Kathakali, the basic nritta sequence - Kalasam, the usage of hasta mudras as depicted in Hastalakshanadeepika, the text followed for the usage of mudras of all the classical dance and dance theatre forms prevalent in Kerala. Prabal concluded his session with Navarasam through a sloka depicting the nine emotions as revealed on Lord Rama’s face through excerpts from various episodes of Ramayana.

The presentation of Prabal Gupta as a whole through audio visual effect was informative and well received by the students and professors along with the director of the college.

Initially trained in Kathakali from Viswabharati University, Avijit Das completed his graduation in Bharatanatyam from Kalakshetra Foundation, Chennai. He has over 20 years of professional career as a dancer.