If Gabbar Singh were to ever capture me, and Teja coming to the rescue was tied down hand and foot by Gabbar Singh’s henchmen and put at gun-point, he would never ever have to flare his nostrils and shout at me, “Banno, in kutto ke saamne mat naachna.” (Banno, don’t dance before these dogs.)
For Gabbar Singh would himself clamber down from his high rock, put a shawl over my trembling body, untie Teja’s bonds and tell Teja, “Teja-bhai, tum Banno-behn ko ghar le jaao. Hum ko koi naach-vaach nahin dekhna, Nahin dekhna naach-vaach hum ko.” (Teja-brother, please take Banno-sister home. We don’t want to see any dance. No dance we want to see.)
For a 10 second demonstration would have made it clear to him that Banno-style dancing goes like this: 1. Move right foot sideways. 2. Move torso to the right. 3. Lift right arm up. 4. Twist right hand. 5. Move left foot towards right foot. 6. Move torso to the left. 7. Lift left arm sideways. 8. Turn left hand round and round. 9. Stand still to listen to beat. 10. Catch it again and start motion in above sequence, now completely off-beat. Repeat ad-infinitum.
Is it any wonder then that anyone who can move arms, legs, shoulders, eyes, face, head, and other body parts in one continuous, rhythmic motion and stay with the beat, for any length of time mesmerizes me?
As if my own gracelessness were not enough, my ignorance about any form of classical Indian dance (or music) is shameful. So I am always hesitant to attend dance performances. But for once, I decided to diss the computer and the DVD player, and stretch my mind, if not my limbs a little.
The dance performances at the Bandra festival were meant for ignoramuses like me. The open air stage attracts a mixed crowd, street children, regular promenade walkers, young couples who’ve made their way up from the rocks by the sea after sun-down, friends and family supporting performers.
The performances by children from 2 NGO shelters, had me doing that thing I do to stop howling – gulp, gulp, close mouth, squeeze nostrils, stop breathing, face swelling up, getting red. Theirs was a dance I understood, because it was close to Banno-style dancing.
The three other presentations were Kathak, a duet of Bharatnatyam (performed by the male dancer) and Odissi (performed by his female partner), and a group of students performing Bharatnatyam. I was unable to capture the finer nuances of the performances, so I concentrated on watching the expressions, the costumes, the flowers in their hair, the sparkle of the jewellery.
And going on in my mind, “Why are they wearing black? It’s showing the dirt. If she was wearing red and yellow, why is he wearing maroon? Her ghaghra is too stiff. It doesn’t show me the play of her legs.” And so on. Because of course, to me, commenting is half the fun of watching anything.
What I also love doing during live performances is to watch the people who are watching. Some young boys getting impatient. A little girl with dirty frock, matted hair and blond streaks. An old couple who really seemed to get it. Parents of the performers, whose eyes and cameras were focussed only on their kids.
There was also a school-principal type of MC who scolded all of us before and after the presentations.
Of course, going to Band Stand is never complete without shouting “Ee, ee, Shahrukh Khan’s house.” I almost never have to do that myself, because someone always gets in there before me. This time, it was Pu.
However, in my book, this is highly excusable, because just a few weeks ago, I met an old doctor who lives across Shahrukh Khan’s house and he was pointing out of his window, going, “Ee, ee, Shahrukh Khan’s house.” And the old gentleman and his family have lived there for years before SRK.
After, a walk through Bandra, and then prawn curry-rice, fried surmai and fried bombil at Soul Fry.
Made me forget all my film woes, for sure. I was also quite pleased when I liked the same dances that Pu had liked, considering that she is studying dance since she was a child. Some hope for me, I say. And for Gabbar Singh.