Mudra to the heart of mythology

Dancer Janani Murali's latest production received critical acclaim in England and will be staged across India next.

Growing up, Janani Murali always wanted to revise some of her mother, renowned danseuse Padma Murali’s productions and she’s now finally getting to do just that. The 32-year-old Bengalurean recently performed her piece, Savitri – Narratives of the Heart to critical acclaim in London and Cambridge and is now set to take it across India and parts of South-East Asia. Here, she tells us what she aspires to do with her legacy. Her production premiered in Bengaluru late last year, and has ever since, made it across the world. “In fact, I’ve played the role of baby Savitri when I was only five in my mother’s production and it stayed with me.

I continued to ask myself, how I would do it differently,” she says. Janani chose to bring the philosophy underlying the story itself. “When you have to do something – rituals, festivals, there’s always the question of ‘why?’ It’s difficult to answer them, but they exist. I wanted to bring them to the fore,” she explains. Using Upanishads and more contemporary poetry by Tagore, Rumi and Sri Aurobindo, she draws parallels between the story of Savitri and how we look at mythology and philosophy.

Janani wears other hats as well and she’s thoroughly excited by all of them – equally. She is a biologist specialised in immunology. And she recently turned entrepreneur with her line of eco-friendly soaps and scrubs. “I like applying my mind and being challenged constantly. Wanting to learn more enthuses me,” she admits. But at the end of the day, she finds dance cathartic. “I want to use it as a medium to explain philosophy and mythology. I’m also hoping to build a community around dance and art to see how it can make a difference to our lives,” says Janani, who is already seeing it through as the associate artistic director of Padmalaya Dance Foundation run by her mother. Her packed schedule only speaks more about her passions – “Up next is a collaborative work for Tyagabharatam, an Independence Day festival in Chennai based on freedom fighters. We are doing a piece on the Rani of Jhansi. I think, her strength and conviction is remarkable – for a woman in the 1800s to not only command an army but to fight on the battlefield,” she says, constantly inspired to bring stories of strength on to the stage.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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