Hailing from a typically art-loving Bengali family, Prantika Mukherjee was introduced to dance at the tender age of three. “I started Bharatanatyam holding the hands of Chandralekha Dutta”, says the dancer.
But it was when she met Chennai-based Bharatanatyam virtuoso Bragha Bessell at a workshop five or six years ago that she decided to widen her horizons.
Soon after that, she found a connect with yet another Chennai-based Bharatanatyam artiste, Vasundhara Thomas. Now, her passion for the art form draws her to the city year after year.
“There is no end to learning when it comes to Indian classical dance. It runs beyond advanced classes. I come to Chennai at least twice a year to quench my thirst to learn more. I rediscover myself in every class”, says Prantika, whose mother was a radio artiste and her maternal grandfather a doctor by profession but a musician at heart.
She talks of how she identifies with her true self when she takes on various roles while delivering solo performances. “The Ashtapadis allow you to explore the different human emotions through the intricate relationship of Radha and Krishna and are very relatable. And I have always been drawn towards abhinaya. Varnam too is very close to my heart”, she enthuses.
Prantika took three full-fledged courses on Bharatanatyam, folk dance and Rabindra Nrithya when she was in high-school. “I completed all the courses but could not take the 6th year exams as I was yet to complete my 10th standard school exam”, she rues. She went on to become a teacher at the Sri Aurobindo Bhavan, Kolkata, when she was herself a student of Standard XI. “It was very difficult because my students were older than me”, she laughs, recalling those years.
The dancer, who is now pursuing her Ph.D at Rabindra Bharati University, runs a dance school, and is a dance choreographer at Sab Peyechir Ashor, the cultural wing of the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur.
Prantika, a national scholarship holder from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Government of India, is in Chennai once again to enrich herself through a meeting with Bragha. “I wanted to learn a keerthanam on Devi and my Guru composed one on Parvati exclusively for me. I have to show her how I have worked on it”, she enthuses...