Playing the serpent girl: Hima Shankar

DECCAN CHRONICLE | ELIZABETH THOMAS
Published Jun 16, 2015, 4:53 am IST
Updated Jan 10, 2016, 8:50 am IST
In the short film Kalpanthakalam, based on the Naga myth, Hima Shankar appears as a Pulluva girl
Still from Kalpanthakalam
 Still from Kalpanthakalam

A few months back, Hima Shankar had a strange experience while staying at Kalari Sangam in Pondicherry. The Sangam was situated in a remote location and while Hima was returning to her room, she felt the presence of a snake behind her. When she looked back, she saw nothing. A few minutes later she began talking on her phone.

At the other end, a man was narrating a similar story to her, inviting her to be a part of his short film Kalpanthakalam, which is based on the Naga myth prevalent in Kerala society.

 

“The chain of coincidences began from there,” says theatre and cine artiste Hima, who appears as a Pulluva girl (a tribal girl) performing Sarpam Thullal (serpent dance). “Another coincidence was regarding the birth star of the character. As per the script, the Pulluvan girl was born in the Malayalam star Aayilyam. I was also born in the same nakshathra,” adds Hima.

The movie is scripted and directed by Sunil Subramanian. The film revolves around this girl who has the characteristics of a nagakanyaka and her love. She is observing ‘lent’, a period of purification prior to the performance and is not supposed to have any worldly thoughts during that time.  However, her lover, who tries to meet her, disturbs her thoughts. Rest of the movie is about what happens to both of them. “The movie is developed from a writer’s perspective. The director told me that he had me in mind as the central character while developing the story,” says Hima.

Not merely the coincidences, the whole shooting was a different experience for Hima. However, the most exciting part was doing the serpent dance. They brought the authentic tribal people who draw nagakkalam (a drawing on the floor using coloured powders) to do the same during the shoot. “I had no prior experience in serpent dance. It just came to me naturally during the shoot. I started performing, sitting at the kolam, when the music went high. Even a girl who stood next to me started dancing. The whole experience was purely divine and I felt as fresh as daisy after performing this dance,” recollects Hima.

The preview of the movie was shown a few days back in Thrissur. Now, the team is planning to release it as a feature film. Besides Kalpanthakalam, Hima has one more film in her kitty. She will be playing the lead role in the movie Pottan. She is also planning to go ahead with her theatre projects.

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