The latest film of writer and director Durba Sahay, a feature film starring danseuse Shovana Narayan in the lead, takes viewers through a journey of changing relationships between a kathak guru and her shishya. The film was recently screened at the 51st International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in the Indian Panorama Feature Film section. Durba’s earlier short films have been featured at the Cannes Film Festival.
Talking about the film, Durba says, “The idea for the film came to me some four-five years ago. I love kathak, and that’s why I wrote the story about this dance form. I wrote about 22-23 pages and went to Shovana ji, and narrated it to her. She really liked it and was on board.”
However, Shovana Narayan is a dancer, not an actor. Wasn’t she apprehensive about her decision? “When I came back home, at night I thought, ‘what have I done? She’s a dancer, and I’m taking her as a protagonist in my film!’ However, I was determined that I’ll do the movie with Shovana ji, and we started rehearsing,” says Durba.
Shovana adds, “It was a different ball game altogether, a different genre, but I feel when you have a good, detailed director, everything falls into place because you are being guided. So it (working in the film) was a beautiful, interesting experience.”
Talking more about the film, Shovana adds, “My character is that of a very traditional dance guru who is moulding new talent. There’s one girl she is invested in a lot, and when she feels the girl is ready to perform, she features her in a duet performance with herself. However, due to misunderstandings, she feels the girl has taken over the limelight and kind of pushed her aside, and the film follows how the guru comes to terms with it, and how the shishya follows.”
Durba, whose 1993 film Patang won the National Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi, says the idea for this theme of a guru-shishya relationship came to her after speaking to the owner of a Hindi magazine. “I asked him how it feels when someone (that he’s taught) writes much better than you, and he said ‘I feel jealous, but also proud that I made that person a good writer/producer.’ From this, I thought that I have to make a film on the guru-shishya parampara, and started working on it.”