wiki:Kalpana (1948)

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Kalpana

aka Imagination 1948 164’ b&w Hindi d/s/choreo Uday Shankar pc Stage & Screen Presentations dial Amritlal Nagar lyr Sumitranandan Pant c K. Ramnoth m Vishnudas Shirali lp Uday Shankar, Amala Shankar, Lakshmi Kanta, G.V. Subba Rao, Birendra Bannerjee, Swaraj Mitter Gupta, Anil Kumar Chopra, Padmini, Lalitha

A dance spectacular, four years in the making, orchestrated by India’s most famous modern dancer (and brother of Ravi Shankar). The narrative of the surreal fantasy is embedded within a framing story of a writer telling a story to a film producer, who eventually declines to make the movie. The writer tells of Udayan (Shankar) and Kamini (Kanta) and the young man’s dream of establishing an art centre, Kalakendra (a fictional equivalent of Shankar’s India Cultural Centre at Almora) in the Himalayas. Shot in the Gemini Studios in Madras, this ode to creative imagination mobilises the vocabulary of traditional dancing, which doubles as a metaphor for the dreams invested in the newly independent India. The choreography was specifically designed for the camera, with semi-expressionist angles and chiaroscuro effects, and became a model for later dance spectaculars like Chandralekha (also made at Gemini and shot by Ramnoth, 1948) and the dream sequence in Raj Kapoor’s Awara (1951). For many years, the unusual film was seen as exemplifying a successful fusion of Indian modernism and the cinema. Shankar, who had danced with Pavlova, was lauded by James Joyce in a letter to his daughter: ‘He moves on the stage like a semi-divine being. Believe me, there are still some beautiful things left in this poor old world.’ A 122’ version was shown in the US although one reviewer noted that the Indian government seemed reluctant to let it be seen abroad.

Film