Encounters of a rainy kind: Monsoon Memoirs
- Sulagna Mukhopadhyay
e-mail: sulagna64@gmail.com

July 16, 2014

As a continuation of Sapphire Quarterly, Sapphire presented with Mir Monsoon Memoirs at Palladian Lounge on June 30, 2014.

Amongst Sapphire's initiatives to spread the word of contemporary dance, this series is meant to present young artistes from various artistic disciplines with their new endeavours, recognising them while also celebrating established artistes, scholars, media persons and activists through their collaborations with the new generation. The Quarterly is ably supported by Addlife Caring Minds, Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi and designer label Shibapriya. Over the last 16 quarters the range of presentations has been myriad.

RJ-cum-actor-cum- anchor Mir is one of the most popular artists in the modern Indian entertainment industry and his musical ensemble Bandage have performed in over 200 shows in India and abroad. A friendly banter had given rise to the thought of a joint performance.  The theme chosen was monsoon, as despite the problems faced by people of Kolkata, monsoon is favourite to everyone. Monsoon Memoirs, therefore, was coined and posed the possibility of Sapphire performing to a live band not risen before and especially with talented performer like Mir. The opportunity was special and to say the least it was made the most of.

Just after Dr. Shashi Panja, Minister of Woman and Child Welfare, Government of West Bengal had been felicitated, Mir opened the magical evening with a tribute to Tagore through the song aaji jhoro jhoro mukhoro.  Dancers accentuated the joy of the pouring rain through their gestures. The well known ghazal Garaj Baras came to life in an ensemble performance in whites and blues bringing alive the colours of the monsoon. The choreography that used release techniques was notable in the way it used the limited space. Next came more popular jewels like Silk Route's Boondein, readings from Kaagaz ki Kashti and Joy Goswami's Meghbalika and of course Mir's special brand of humour.

Sapphire also conveys their protests and supports on several social issues through their dances. This time they have used the favourite numbers of Mir and portrayed their views on different current issues. Sapphire showed up through an inspired performance to the popular Bheegi Bheegi Raaton Mein working in rhythmic duet pieces and then the imagery of rape and molestation of a young girl by a group of men. That was followed by the iconic Indian Rain by Leslie Lewis and Hariharan being set to a trio male piece featuring Sapphire’s choreographer - director Sudarshan Chakravorty that addressed the section 377 issue without words but sensitive movements. The colour white, with the splash of bright colours and the handcuffs on the men brought alive a rare and deep pathos. The show closed with the bright and cheery Khwabon Ke Parindey by Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy set to an ensemble performance that built in the imagery of freeing oneself of inhibitions and flying high. The choreography and the energy of the senior and school section dancers stood out in these pieces.

As the evening came to a close and the spirits flowed freely in a mélange of appreciation and conversation one couldn’t help notice how the arts never failed to inform, affect, entertain and inspire us and how our innermost beings always riose to the occasion by celebrating this artistic spirit and the joy that it inexorably gives.
Concept and choreography was by Sudarshan Chakravorty, narration, songs and music was by Mir and his band Bandage with Anol Chattopadhyay as guest singer, costume by Paromita Saha and lights by Dipankar Dhar. The dancers were Paramita Saha, Koushik Das, Ankita Duttagupta, Pintu Das, Rima Halder, Prasenjit Dutta, Manju Roy, Anubhav Duttagupta, Ujjayyee Banerjee, Sriparna Mitra and Sudarshan Chakravorty.

Sulagna Mukhopadhyay was trained in Bharatanatyam by Guru Thankamani Kutty and Indian folk by Late Botu Pal. She has an M.A. in Comparative Literature and has freelanced for various leading newspapers of Kolkata like The Telegraph, The Statesman and Ananda Bazar Patrika. She has written articles on dance and gender issues. She is a teacher of South Point School since 1996.