By now, we all know the lyrics of Despacito by heart and the internet is filled with cover versions of the song in different forms — Bharatnatyam, Hindustani, and so on. There are so many versions of Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You that we wouldn’t be surprised if Ed himself forgets what the original version sounds like! But breaking away from the norm, Kathak dancer and trainer from the city, Shritha Baskar is set to conduct a live performance of Kathak to popular English and Tamil pop songs. Shritha takes a break from her hectic rehearsal sessions to chat with us about the quirky concert, named Samved.
“Through my academy, Taraana, we have been staging both contemporary and traditional Kathak performances. This time, we wanted to do something different, and we have decided to add pop culture to Kathak,” she begins, adding, “We have seen many cover versions of famous songs go viral, but we haven’t seen a Kathak version yet. This is a bid to bridge the gap between new-age audiences and traditional Kathak. Everyone wants to do such performances online these days. But the magic of watching it live is unmatched and Samved is the answer to it!”
Talking about the relevance of the name Samved, Shritha, 23, says, “Samved means adding knowledge to art and culture. And here, we are using our knowledge of Kathak to make a different kind of art.”
Samved will feature students of Taraana perform to Despacito, Shape of You, Cold Water by Justin Bieber among other hits. “Kathak has a few musical syllables called bol, and we have added such bols to the songs. We have also incorporated the Sawaal-Jawaab feature of Kathak, where the tabla’s beats are imitated by the Ghungroo.”
Shritha opines that this performance will give a chance to her students to stay motivated. “They are at the age where they listen to such songs on a daily basis and they know how to appreciate this type of music. It will give them the inspiration to evolve.”
Shritha, who happens to be one of the youngest Kathk trainers in the city, explains that the cultural scene has evolved in Chennai rapidly and that Kathak owes Kamal Haasan a lot for the recognition it receives today. “When I moved to Chennai in 2009, there were many who thought Kathak was short for Kathakali! But Vishwaroopam changed the whole scene. The Unnai Kaanathu song became so popular and I got many requests from people, when they knew that it is the type of dance I teach.”
Shritha is all praise for the arts community in Chennai as well, for welcoming Kathak with open arms. “We have been even been performing at the December cultural season for the past three years.”
(Samved is set to happen today, 6 pm at Spaces, Besant Nagar)...