A classical singer is immersed in rendering the evocative Hindustani bhajan by Swathi Thirunal, Chaliye Kunjanamo, with her students listening in, when she gets a surprise visit from her friend. This is the introduction sequences of the music album Chaliye. It is an example of how limitations no longer circumscribe musicians, who are keen to experiment and explore new horizons. Lately, music, dance and other art forms are merging together in novel fusions, proving that art has no boundaries.
Chaliye, conceptualised by music composer and playback singer Priya R. Pai, has synchronised her music along with dance by Dhanya Menon to come up with a visual treat that is gaining traction on YouTube. The novel aspect of Chaliye is not just the breathtaking visuals by photographer Anush A. Bhat, but also the perfect blend of dance and music with a story interwoven into it, of a deep friendship and the need to de-stress with a passion outside of work.
Incidentally, Dhanya, apart from being a dancer, is also India’s first woman cybercrime investigator. The two accomplished women also share a close friendship in real life and that has translated beautifully on screen. Dhanya and Priya share a lot of common traits, about which she says, “Dhanya is really passionate about dance and has a dance school, Salabhanjika. The same way I am passionate about my music and my school, Saveri School of Music. We both try out innovations in our respective fields along with our students. It is in the course of one of our meetings that the idea of such collaboration came up,” she shares. Dhanya decided to incorporate the costume and steps of Kuchipudi with the song. There was also the thought of revamping the jugalbandi format to come up with a story with Dhanya playing herself.
Dhanya, on her part, says with a smile, “It was acting rather than dancing! The concept was Priya’s and I had to follow her cue. She adds that most of Swathi Thirunal’s compositions lend themselves to Mohiniyattam or Bharatanatyam styles. She herself has performed it in the Mohiniyattam format on stage. About the challenges, she says, “It has been a long time since I performed in front of the camera; so that was a challenge.”
Taking time off her busy career was also not difficult as she opines, “Lack of time is just an excuse we give to avoid things that we do not want to do. Since this is my passion, I found time like most other people passionate about their art do.”
The execution of the concept took one month and the location hunt was challenging with the video shot in apt locales all across the state. The shoot was completed in three days and some frames had to be re-enacted multiple times to get the long and close shots. Priya concludes by remarking, “The challenge was more on Anush’s part to translate the concept in moving frames.”...