Monday, 21 November 2016

Get Stage Go!
Everyone was running everywhere. Props in hand, costumes on shoulders, and boxes of jewellery clutched under the arm, the dance academy was preparing for a performance that had to be staged next week.
It was Ridha’s first show under Guru ji’s choreography. As it is she had stage fear, and on top of that, the pressure of Guru ji’s composition had made her a bundle of nerves.
Ridha went over her steps again and again until she started to forget them due to over-practicing. All the other dancers could read the tension on her face. And she could read resentment on theirs, because Guru ji had given her the lead spot.
Being on that wooden platform, illuminated with bright yellow light, wa a temptation Ridha could never resist.  But the dark expanse in front of the stage felt like an evil void that was waiting to suck her in. The million eyes staring towards her at once flattered the dancer, and scared her of criticism.
Next week was her ultimate test. Ridha hoped for the best, and prepared for the worst.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Spark of Spirituality 

Diwali was over, but it had left a deep impression on Ridha. One may think how difficult is it to dance in front of a clay idol adorned with flowers. However, Ridha knew that she had to search for faith in the deep recesses of her heart to be able to dance.

Guru ji called out her name in his deep voice. “Ridha, did you feel scared when you danced alone in front of the Goddess?”

“Was it so visible? Damn, I need to do something about my expressions. I mess it up every time I have a chance to impress Guru ji”, a tiny voice screamed inside her.

“Being nervous is normal because dancing for others is easy. But when you perform for a higher being, you lose your worldly motivations. Factors such as appreciation, fame, admiration, become meaningless. The only thing that drives you is complete love and surrender for that higher being."

“You speak of spirituality, Guru ji” She whispered. The gleam in his eyes said he had fanned a spark inside her. 

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

                             PART- 10

Lakshmi Pooja night. Traditionally on this day, one offers all that is precious to them to the Goddess. And she returns it back in multitude. Any other year she would be celebrating with her family, but today she was at her Dance Centre.

Guru ji had kept a special class. “But why on Diwali!” She thought.

“Hey Ridha! Come and place your ghughroos in the Pooja. It is about to start.” Her friend called out.
“Pooja? I thought we were going to have a class!” She was perplexed.

”As dancers, the most precious thing we have is our Ghunghroo, and our art. Surrender it to the Goddess and she shall bless you with abundance”. Saying that, Guru ji called the senior most student closer to the Goddess, and drew the curtain shut.

It was a solitary moment, guarded from the eyes of fellow dancers and even Guru ji. The student did a small dance sequence full of reverence and faith as an offering.

As students lined up in a queue, Ridha nervously waited for her turn.

Monday, 17 October 2016


Ridha felt like her friend’s words had taken her through a process of initiation. She felt like she had found a road to the next level in her quest as a dancer.
She had earlier thought of herself as a decently accomplished dancer, being able to garner appreciation from the audiences. Even though onstage she felt a tinge of unease, the audience had called her effortless.  Riyaaz helped her understand the journey that lay between that unease and the effortlessness.
This journey was personal, and the struggle bigger than performing on stage.  You didn’t have the layers of makeup to hide under, or expensive fabrics to cover yourself with. You didn’t have dramatic lighting to take your mind away, or the soulful music to enhance your movements.
It was just you and the bare rhythm; the Laya.
Laya- an aloof lover, in a room full of people who knows the effect he has on you. The more you want to understand him, the further he feels out of your grasp. He makes you aware of his presence, and yet doesn’t let you court him.

Saturday, 8 October 2016


TWENTY minutes, which felt like an eternity have passed and Ridha’s new friend is in no mood to slow down the speed of his footwork. She is exhausted now. Her calves and ankles are revolting against this agony being afflicted on them. What was I thinking? Why did I jump into practicing with this maniac? 

Forget it, I’II just stop’, she muttered to herself. Just as she was about slow down her footwork, he said “Did you notice? The tap of your feet is already beginning to sound different. If you practice hard enough, you can match it to a musical note”.

Dancers sing with their feet, their arms, their body. Just like how a guitarist tunes his guitar strings to match the correct note, we tune our feet to produce the right melody from our ghunghroo. The hand gestures, and facial expressions build upon that melody and decorate it like a singer’s taans and alaaps.

.......He spoke like a worshiper, and Ridha listened like a believer.

Saturday, 1 October 2016


Ridha walked back into the class with her friend of five minutes. Her friend, who shall help her survive this dance class. She settled down on a worn out yoga mat facing him. She had never seen anyone practice. Perform, yes. Practice, never.
Her thoughts were broken by the sound of his ghunghroo. Instead of slowly picking up pace, he began full throttle.  She was shocked, terrified rather. The rushing beats being produced by his feet created a chaotic noise at first, but soon formed a pattern. Almost as if someone was chanting a mantra with a great urgency.
With the rising tempo, Ridha felt a palpable energy within her too. She didn’t know of this approach to dance at all. She had always interpreted it as something graceful, and delicate. And here was a man, who looked as if he was preparing for war with his eyes tightly shut, and possessed by some inner calling.

Feeling the adrenaline rush through her, Ridha jumped to her feet. Without thinking, she breaks into a footwork struggling to match up to his accelerating speed. 

Saturday, 24 September 2016


With the class over, Ridha couldn’t decide why she was happy. Was it because she learnt something new, or because this ordeal was over? But when did dancing become a task. She shoved away all the thoughts, hoping to tackle them with fresh energy.

She picked up her cloth bag, put her ghunghroo in it, and was ready to leave. She wiped her forehead with the corner of her dupatta but ended up smudging her black bindi. It now formed a tick mark across her forehead.

‘Hey! You are very graceful when you dance. I could help you with some of the steps in the next class.’ A young guy with an athletic build and curly hair springing out in all directions, said to her. 

He wore a light kurta that was drenched in sweat, and half a dozen discolored threads on his wrist.
He was probably the first person who had spoken to Ridha on a warm note. She thanked him profusely, and decided to come early for the next class.

‘Aren’t you leaving?’ She asked.

No, I stay back after everyone leaves to do some riyaaz.

May I just sit and watch?

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Ridha’s first class with the young celebrity dancer had begun on an extremely adventurous note. She silently prayed to god for the next one hour to pass off without an episode.
Shielded behind rows of students, she could finally let go of the anxiety, and focus on the music. She was copying the steps that the other students knew by heart. With each passing move she felt at peace with the world, in love with the rhythm, and rested in her mind. It was the only refuge that she had known as a child.
Moving to the music, Ridha wasn’t aware that her eyes were shut, and she had been doing steps that were totally different from the rest of the class.
“Is Guruji’s choreography not good enough for you?” , “Or it is too tough?”, “You thought this would be easy?”
“No.. I don’t even..”

“Let it be, all of you. She can do what she likes.”
Confusion would be an understatement. Ridha just can’t understand her enigmatic Guru or what goes on in his mind. Just when she felt he thinks nothing of her, he intervened on her behalf.
But, did he? Maybe after all, he thought nothing of her. He didn’t care if she could learn what others were doing. Maybe he saw no potential in her at all. Yes, that is the cause of this indifference, the tiny voice inside her, said.

She is not any other student. She is a performer. I can’t restrain her in mechanical steps and moves, he thought.   


Expecting to be rejected by the celebrity dancer after her ungraceful and non-dancer like fall, Ridha stood up to see him smirking at her.
“You know nothing. But I can make you a performer. You may be my student”
Excuse me?? Did he really say that, the little voice screamed inside her. How is it that she is never able to judge what’ll happen to her next!
Her ideal artist had uttered the most arrogant words. In one sentence, he had given Ridha the biggest joy and at the same time broken her self confidence into bits.
Recovering from the smack of words, she turned back and started walking towards the end of the class, while his eyes followed her till the last step.  He withdrew his gaze just at the moment she turned to face him.
His eyes gave nothing away.

PART - 3

   How hard will it be to do a few steps in front her would-be Guru ji, Ridha thought.. But here she couldn’t bring her eyes to meet his gaze, the same man whom she looked at, transfixed when he performed. Was it her shyness, or fear? To have her potential as a dancer be recognized by him would mean bigger than any award for Ridha. But if he refused to accept her as a student, then, what?  
‘5..6..7..8..’ She mustered all the courage she had inside her and jerked her body into movement as the music began. When the familiar melody floated from the Sitar, she began to ease into the rhythm. The tempo quickly picked up pace, and she matched it with her graceful spins.

Ridha took a poised jump as the climax approached..

CRASH!!!! She landed with her face hitting the wooden floor, and a circle of students peering down at her, at the head of which was the man she wanted to impress.  

PART - 2

   Looking at her reflection in the mirror, Ridha adjusts her red bindi, finally satisfied with her appearance. After all, she’s going to meet the celebrity dancer today, who if accepts her will become her Guru.  
She has seen him weave magic on stage infinite times, and each time she wanted to perform along with him. Moving to the same rhythm, mirroring his movements, becoming his shadow. She hoped to alleviate herself in the art as she plunged deeper into the mysterious appeal of this man.
  ‘Wake up Girl! You’re late on your first day. Come in fast.’
  ‘Sorry Guru ji
  ‘I am not your Guru ji, yet.’

PART - 1  

Shinjini Kulkarni
Deeply kohled eyes, waist length hair loosely put in place with a stick, silver bangles clattering on her right wrist, and a halter neck khadi kurta adorning a naturally slender figure; meet the dusky dancer Ridha. For the many nameless faces in the audience she was a self confident, strong, outgoing girl who was born to be in the limelight. But only the butterflies in her tummy knew how many times they fluttered before she took the centre stage.
Ridha did indeed love the stage, but only after she was off it. She longed to perform when she saw another speak authoritatively on the mic, but the moment before her own turn felt like a dark, nebulous cloud, hanging over her courage, her desire, her ambitions, and her strength.
Her relationship with the limelight was one of Love & Hate. But every time this alluring seducer called her onto the wooden path illuminated by yellow spotlights, the enchanted girl answered...