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Natyashastra calls Natyaveda a component of four vidha’s or aspects to create abhinaya. the Angika the body movements, the Vachika the spoken word, the satvika the emotional gradient, and finally aharya the costumes.

Kala academy had a workshop for its students on Angika abhinaya. since the students focus was on drama and not dance, we experimented with the concepts of Angahara, that is we start with a stanaka or the start movement, which is again starts with neutral, then we take the stance of the character, we then move on to the various walks, gaits, gestures until we have created our character. The various characters tell their story, with the help of the sutradhara.

Since panchatantra involved a narration with animals we opted for it.




Being funny is serious


The first week of august is dedicated to the clowns as the International clown’s week.

The clown figure has had so many meanings in different times and cultures. The jolly, well-loved joker familiar to most people is only one aspect of this protean creature. Madmen, hunchbacks, amputees and other abnormal were considered as natural clowns once upon a time. They were elected tofu fill a comic role which could allow others to see them as ludicrous rather than as terrible reminders of forces of disorder in the world. But sometimes a cheerless jester was required to draw attention to this same disorder, as in the case King Lear’s morbid and honest fool, he was of course eventually hanged and so much for his clownish wisdom. Clowns have often had ambiguous and sometimes contradictory roles to play.

The dictionary however defines a clown as someone who performs in a circus who wears funny clothes and makeup, and who tries to make people laugh. Someone who often does funny things to make people laugh, or it could even people a rude or a stupid person. The word probably arises from Low German origin, akin to Frisian clumsy fellow or Old English Clyne  that meant lump of mental. It was first known to be used in 1563

Historically the fifth dynasty of Egypt documents the presence of clowns around 2400 BC.  Clowns though similar to court jesters, they have traditionally served a socio religious and psychological role. Traditionally the roles of priests and clowns have been held by the same persons, this tradition is also seen in the Sanskrit drama pattern of Sutradhara and Vidhushaka.

As observed by Peter Berger it could be plausible that folly and fools like religion and magic meet some deeply rooted needs in human society. This is often considered an important part of training in the eastern schools of physical performance. Many of the performances begin with novices playing the Kodangi.

To put it very simplistically a clown is a comic performer who employs slapstick, or some form of physical humour, many a times like a mime.  There are varied tradition and variation of costume and performances even with the genre of clowns. Outlandish make-up, distinctive costumes, exaggerated mannerisms, and loud clothing usually are the features of a clown as it helps to connect and entertain audience particularly at a distance.

For me clowns were usually associated with circus, they have been linked with circus since 18th century.  The traditional white face make-up was created by Joseph Grimaldi who was the first mainstream clown.

A clown usually performs the role of a fool whose everyday action and tasks become extraordinary and for whom the ridiculous is quite ordinary.

There are people who fear clowns and the condition is known as coulrophobia.

Clowns are of different types we have the sad clown  blanc, the happy clown auguste, the Whiteface clown created by Joseph Grimaldi in 1801 has become the classic face of a- clown.with white covering the entire face and neck so that no skin is visible. This clown type is more extravagant and wears ruffled collars and pointed hat all which have come to typify the clown suit.

Auguste is another archtype, with white muzzle and eyes.  The base make-up being a variation of pink, red or tan rather than white. The facial features are exaggerated in size and typically red and black in colour. The clothes of Auguste are either oversized or too small. Bold colours, large prints and suspenders are usually used. Auguste is more of an anarchist, a joker or a fool. He is very clever though he has less status than the white face, Auguste is usually the sidekick of whiteface, and is challenged when he has to obey the orders of whiteface. The errors resulting from the confused or foolish acts Auguste, either deliberately or not leads to hilarity.

Sometimes there is a mediator between whiteface character and auguste who is the contra-Auguste, his status falls in between too.  He mimics whiteface and is often instructed by whiteface to correct Auguste.

Sometimes an eccentric presentation of an every character like a baker, butcher, policeman or a housewife is present this becomes the Character Clown. He/she is a comic slant on the standard human face. Their make starts with flesh tone base and may make use of anything from glasses moustaches and beards to freckles, warts, big ears or strange haircuts.

Each culture has its own presentation of the clown, American circuses have the hobo, tramp or bum clown, the difference between these clowns types are usually their attitude.

  • The hobo who is migratory he finds work as he travels, usually down on his luck but maintains a positive attitude.
  • The tramp Migratory but does not work, he is down on his luck too, and is depressed about his situation.
  • The bum is neither migratory nor working.

Stories have their own clown who is masters of presenting various truths in their stark form which sounds rather absurd.  Native American mythology has trickster who channels the spirit of a coyote he is usually a sacred clown, a Heike is a person who lives outside the constrains of normal cultural roles, he usually does everything backwards, or reverse.

Pierrot and Harlequin are two distinct types of clown charecters created in commedia dell’Arte and are still going strong. Pierrot or Piroutte is usually the youngest actor of the troupe, deadpan and down trodden he usually appears in whiteface

Harlequin the dim, and clumsy messenger is another prototype, he always carries a cane to strike other performers but get struck with it instead.This is the concept that is believed to be the origin of slapstick

Some clowning terminology

When it comes to skills in a circus a clown may perform other roles lie

  • Walking a tightrope, on a highwire, or slack rope or a piece of rope on the ground.
  • Substitute himself for a lion tamer, but of course he is clumsy
  • Ride a horse, a zebra or a donkey or an elephant.
  • When the clown takes on the role of a ring master he becomes the emcee. Or the MC.
  • Clown are known to be acrobatic, or horse riders

The clown act is the general outline of an act that clowns use to help them build an act. The frameworks can be loose with a beginning and an end with the in between being improvised. In the context of a circus the clowns are present in entrees, side dishes, clown stops, trick gags and gags and bits.

Strangely the fear of clowns rides very high in people and it called the coulrophobia.

This actually causes anxiety particularly when the character of the evil clown is seen. This not often in used in real space this prevails more in the virtual space.

More about clowns in —


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Actors ( KapilImageImage, sharma, Abhishek jhankal, Vishal Bhatt, Priyadarshini, Anshul, Aashna, Krishna, Gagan, Yash, Bhuvenesh & Karan ) of CURIO a group of performing art society, Jaipur unit performed TRIYATRA play on 18 september 2012 at Kurukshetra-Haryana. This performance is directed by Gagan & priyadarshini ( Brother & sister)

This is our old performance & we have performed more than 17 shows at Jaipur, Bhopal, Allahabad, Gaya, Sagar, Pathancot, Chandigarh, Kurukshetra,Bikaner, Ajmer and other cities of India.

We need ur blessings & support pls give us.

Gagan Mishra                        Priyadarshini Mishra
Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab Units
pls visit

ritual of the dikpalas

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ImageAssuming that majority of the readers are Hindus, how many of your really pay attention  to the muttering of the priest.

They perform this ritual called the Lokapaala whatever, in theater parlance, we call it the dikpala puja or the worshipping of the keepers of the cardinal directions. For quite a few years i slept through all these mantras, which were muttered without any explaination, and if one did ask for an explanation one did not recieve it.

Anyway, when I was deciphering parts of natyashastra I discovered that the cardinal signs were assigned guardians.  Their symbolism was exquist.

Morning prayers of the priests of egypt, the shaman’s of the American and Asian enthic people begin with the prayer to the sun god, facing the east. The sun the sustainer of all life, his gentle rays can nourish he holds the memories of the good and bad of all living creatues, he who is impartial and bestows his blessings with all equanimity.

The pantheon does honour his facing east, and reminding ourselves that he is the center of the existance, he is the truth, we may choose to call him surya or just rah.  The God who really is the guardian of the east is Indra. I would like to say like Horus being the pharaoh but Indra falls short of the yard stick.

The south is guarded by Yama the God of destruction, call him the eternal truth for he is Yama the God of death the only undeniable permanancy of life. South is the direction from which India faced destructive rains, and resulting floods, hence the keeper of the south is also the god of death.

The unfathomable depths of ocean, that also dwells in human existance as the mind, soul, lies in the west. From the west came the trade, and wealth, saraswati the omnipotent river, the nourisher, also in the west, hence the Lord of water Varuna is honored there.

Finally the north, Kubera the keeper of the coffers of the Gods, the Lord of Yakshas the forest wealth, the rider of the human ambition which translates to abundance, he is naravahana the Lord of the North.

The honoring of the dikpala’s is reminding us of our strenghts and our weakness and from they are sourced.

The earth that we stand on, and the sun that shines, nature worship has been sucked into mainstream rituals.


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respite from the rain, at my hometown


प्रपञ्चैः प्रोन्मीलत्कुटजकलिकार्जृम्भितशतैः।

घनारम्भे प्रेयस्युपगिरि गलन्निर्झरजल-

प्रणालप्रस्वेदैः कमपि मृदुभावं प्रथयति॥

Sthalī-bhūmir niryan-navaka-trna-romānca-nicaya-

prapancaiḥ pronmīlat-kutaja-kalikājṛmbhita-śataiḥ |

Ghana-ārambhe preyasy upagiri galan-nirjhara-jala-

praṇāla-prasvedaiḥ kamapi mṛdu-bhāvaṃ prathayati ||

Atop a mountain, the earth, revealing a body bristling with goosebumps from top to toe in the sprouting grass and yawning all the while with thousands of just-opening kuṭaja buds, betrays a certain tender thrill towards her lover, the monsoon, with the sweat that trickles down in the form of the coursing waterfalls.

Second verse in the ‘Vara-ārambha’ section of the Saduktikarāmtam

The romance of the rains, described by the poet, performed by the dancer or the actor. They are all entwined, the thinker, philosopher, the seeker, poet and the dancer.

This article has been an retrospection for me.  Display of memorabilia and artifacts collected by me through the  mythical countries that I have traversed so far in journey on the mystic path. I say mystic as Varsha or the season of rains weaves mists and myths. From the rains ithat meant  chai pakora and college canteen I realize I have travelled so far.

Anyone who has witnessed the intensity of an early monsoon storm will understand why the word for rain – Varsha—has come to mean a year in many Indian languages. The annual arrival of rains, the season primarily known by the feminine form Varsha is probably the most dramatic, and awaited metrological event of the year.

Ask any performing artist, about monsoon, the answer might range anywhere from

“off season”

“no work”

“irani restaurant”

“chai pakore”

“creative inspiration.”

The first four,more often, as performances during the rains are very few and very far in between.  As described by one poet,

देवे वर्षत्यशनपवनव्यापृता वह्नि-हेतोर्गेहाद्गेहं फलकनिचितैः सेतुभिः पङ्कभीताः।

नीध्रप्रान्तानविरलजलान्पाणिभिस्ताडयित्वा शूर्पच्छत्रस्थगितशिरसो योषितः संचरन्ति॥

Deve varṣaty aśana-pavana-vyāpṛtā vahni-hetor gehād gehaṃ phalaka-nicitaiḥ setubhiḥ paṅka-bhītāḥ |

Nīdhra-prāntān avirala-jalān pāṇibhis tāḍayitvā śūrpac-chatra-sthagita-śiraso yoṣitaḥ saṃcaranti ||

When god rains, women, busy trying to fight the raging wind, covering their heads with an umbrella made of a cane winnowing basket, grabbing hold of the edges of roofs with their hands and treading on makeshift bridges of piles of planks for fear of the mud, go from house to house in search of a fire.

Verse 59 in the Varā section of the Subhāitaratnabhāṇḍāgāram ~ challenge of the pouring rain, the chill breeze  does not inspire people to go to a performance if at all one does get to the performance the production supports like power may or may not function,.

Monsoon in India spans the months of nabhas and nabhsaya ie the months of mist clouds, or sky. Starting on from the month of sravana and bhadrapada. The Indian monsoon splits into two episode the south west one that hits in June and May and the northeast one that appears in December. The scope of the canvas now becomes very large. Like the poet valmiki mentions in the Ramayana

नवमासधृतं गर्भं भास्करस्य गभस्तिभिः।

पीत्वा रसं समुद्राणां द्यौः प्रसूते रसायनम्॥

Navamasadrantha garbha bhaskarsaya gabasthibhi

Pitva rasa samudrana dyau prasute rasayanam

For nine months the sky drank the ocean’s water sucking it up through the sun’s rays and now gives birth to a liquid off spring the elixir  of life.

Early  in our careers our  when our internal journey or the spiritual growth has not yet begun. Adulation is a necessary fuel.  The initial healing effect of the rain is quickly overcome, and when trapped indoors due to incandescent rains we tend to get depressed with the lack of movement, and momentum.  This is the tamasic state in our life, where the mind has not yet begun to open.

But slowly we learn to observe what we have been miming, after Varsha arrives with greenery, birds, droning of insects, not to mention the dramatic resonance of the thunderstorms, and lightening  a new understanding of nature emerges, the wonderment! this is the point where the transition from the tamasic to rajasic occurs, we are able to interpret what a philosopher or a poet has to say and  create a new visual.

Varsha is also a period of education many artists tend to read other poets and dramatists work, this alongside the vibrant nature, the effect is orgasmic. The thunders, lightening, drone are all nature production supports. The performing artist who is starting out is on a tamasic, with lot of energy we replicate what is put forth by either another director, or choreographer, it is our induction period, we learn along the way, getting sensitized to seeing things around us. For example all through my  career I found one thing very strange, with all the elements of sound the drone of insect is very rarely mentioned by the poets, except for a rare madhukara by  Kalidasa  in Shakuntala, indragopa  is the only other insect mentioned,

indragopa or the firefly is an rain insect, scholars identify it with kha-jyothi or the khadhyoti  the insect that torments lovers by twinkling like the stars, particularly when the monsoon clouds are dense.

इन्द्रगोपैर्बभौ भूमिर्निचितेव प्रवासिनाम्।


Indragopair babhua bhumir nicit’eva pravasinan

Ana gaorbaairdhibedha surta Lolita bhindubhi

This couplet attributed to Vararuchi describes the earth glistening with indragopas as if covered with love’s arrows dripping from ripping apart travelers’ heart. If it were not for this poetry I would have never discovered the indragopa, still less learn appreciate him.

As we grow in the rajasic mode, we are on step one to satwik where we begin to ask more profound questions and want answers, we look at social issues, we take on as educators, now Varsha becomes a period of introspection, where we question and seeks answers these emerge as literary compositions and translate to performance.

We transcend from learning through others creation, using poets and dramatists to share our learning, people may choose to call this education, or learning. We have now begun to achieve the purpose of theater (contemporary Bharatnatyam, falls in the category of ekaharya of the natyashastra)


Presenting an important event, or thought using drama that has elements, of rhythm, music and a range of emotions.

Each of my performance has been a learning experience. I shall address only those that were interwoven strongly with the rains.

Starting from  the poem badal dekh dari mein  of  Meera Bhai where she describes the fear evoked by the thunder, the fascination with lightening, the soothing sound of the rain drops and need for Krishna by her side. May be this was the first hazy exposure to  the male and female entwining and even more nebulous understanding of mortal and divine. Of course the fact that nature could influence relationship was something that still did not occur. It was only later I could appreciate the fact, that Meera, was considered Radha, for Radha represents the human need to be part of the divine.

Then came the famous kannada play Muddanna- manorameyara sallapa, where the pouring rains have entrapped the poet Muddanna and his wife Manorama to their house, they are bored of playing chess  and Muddanna tells his wife let me tell you a story do you want to listen to it in prose or poetry? The wife replies “padyam vadyam “that is not poetry but prose. It made me aware that conversation and serious conversation was possible during the downpour for neither of the people can walk out. More important the need to sit and converse without walking out, was away of bonding. The subtle acceptance of the importance of conversation to sustain any relationship.

Then came the rains of introspection with ashadada ondu dina,  or ashada ke ek din the story of Kalidasa, where being  forced to stay indoors in the rains Kalidasa and his estrange lover Mallika reminiscence their bygone days, until her drunken husband returns bringing them to her present. That was the time I learnt that one had to move on in life the heroine Mallika did, she had a life without Kalidasa albeit a painful one, but Kalidasa had to imagine romance because he was without a companion, sometimes I wonder maybe that is what makes Kalidasa so romantic in his poetry the grocery bill and mundance routine never interfered.

As I out grew performance, and picked up the baton for directing I started with Malle Bantu malle a simple folklore on the water cycle. The link between the heat, the evaporating water, the formation of clouds, then finally the rain.  The children performing it were 6-10yr olds, what usually used to be a labourious, and monotonous concept, was learnt in just 20mnts of the narration, for the visual was erected for them, by themselves. Later on they would look at the blazing sun and visualize the water from Mandovi being sucked up.

In mrichakatika we had translate the romance of wetness, between a rain soaked Vasantasena and a dry charudutta. The description of the  world that is a sleep, Indra’s elephant Airawata that takes the shape of the clouds

एते हि विद्युद्गणबद्धकक्षा गजा इवान्योन्यमभिद्रवन्तः।

शक्राज्ञया वारिधराः गां रूप्यरज्ज्वेव समुद्धरन्ति॥

Ete hi vidyud-guṇa-baddha-kakṣā gajā iv’ ānyonyam abhidravantaḥ |

Śakr’-ājnayā vāri-dharāḥ sadhārā gāṃ rūpya-rajjveva samuddharanti ||

Like elephants these clouds, streaming rain, bound about their girths with chains of lightning and charging against each other, seem to be uprooting the earth on Indra’s orders with silvery ropes.

The visual for this was created with the underlying focus of experiencing the forbidden, the unattainable, afterall the affluent ganika was above charudatta’s reach in the routine organize of life.

5.21 Mcchakaika of Śudraka

At the end of the act, Cārudatta takes Vasantasenā into his house leaving us with a final description, this time of the sound of the rains – or rather the rain, rather than the more normal that of thunder which seems more popular.

तालीषु तारं विटपेषु मन्द्रं शिलासु रूक्षं सलिलेषु चण्डम्।

संगीतवीणा इव ताड्यमानास्तालानुसारेण पतन्ति धाराः॥

tālīṣu tāraṃ viṭapeṣu mandraṃ śilāsu rūkṣaṃ salileṣu caṇḍam |

saṃgīta-vīṇā iva tāḍyamānās tālā-‘nusāreṇa patanti dhārāḥ ||

A high-pitched plink upon the tāla leaves, a murmuring patter upon the branches, a harsh clatter upon the rocks and a violent crash upon water – the rain falls, keeping the beat, like vīṇās in a concert.

The range from Mrichakatika, Malavikagnimitra, I realized that romance, between unmarried couple was an accepted norm in ancient India, the elaborate rituals, of preparing for the event, enjoying the event in its totality, and then the clandestinely meeting lovers being discovered are all documented. Particularly Mrichakatika documents these across the caste and economic barrier. Marriage only comes as an approval from the society. But once married the sanctity had to me maintained.

To me now Varsha has full cycle, I enjoy the cool breeze without getting wet, the delgue within me I warm till it turns a lava and that comes out as a script, learning the movements of trees, the birds, the drone of  indragopa’s  my new performance emerges on the canvas, each Parjanya (down pour-catharsis) liberating and exalting, it is truly a rasa anubha. I have even begun to seek the solitude presented by the season.

Rasa like the down pour of rains is the catharsis of a performance, it is what turns a mundane event to a divine experience and is brought out to you through the path of Bharatnatyam or a relevant point  dramatically using emotions, movement, music and rhythm.

paralleling the hero’s journey in classical indian drama

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The hero’s journey and its parallel in Indian dramaturgy.

The ordinary world is where the story begins

Refusal to the call the hero usually refuses to face the challenge

Meeting the mentor the hero meets a mentor or gains advice to face the challenge

Crossing the first threshold from the ordinary the protagonist moves to the extraordinary breaking the comfort zone.

Tests and allies like all journeys’ there are trials and troubles, friends, foes and distraction.

Approach there is a failure in the plan of action or an obstacle the protagonist now needs to relook into the alternates dig into his or her own reserves and capabilities.

Ordeal would be a challenge almost fatal crisis.

Reward overcoming the challenge or even facing death earns the hero a reward.

The return the hero must return to the ordinary world, acknowledging his mentors, and aides through the journey.

Resurrection   rreturn to the mundane from the exotic is also necessary; he has to use all that he has learnt.

The elixir or the achievement the hero returns with the elixir and uses it to help everyone in the ordinary world.

These are the steps travelled by hero in any journey this is also seen in the concept of classical Indian theatre where we talk of the bindu or the reason for the quest, the trouble, which requires a Yatna or an effort that traverses the adventure of the hero, and then comes the phlaprapti or fulfilment of the goal. In the course of the quest he is either helped or distracted by the demigod’s that is the pantheon of deva-gandharva, – yaksha-yakshini-rakshasa-kinnara so on so fort. There are the vidhushaka and sutradhara who are wise men who aid the hero; there are also the mantrik’s and tantric who are potential dangers.


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Synonyms: Javanika, Yavanikapaati.
Yavanika is a rectangular curtain carried on and off the stage by stage assistants in order to facilitate the entrance and exit of characters.
The Jain scholar Ratnakara talks of characters exiting behind the Yavanika. It must have been the tradition of his region. In the description of the performances at the court of King Rajashekhara, narrations of the sutradhara1 pulling the Yavanika is detailed.
The tradition of Yavanika is seen in the present day performances of Yakshagana, Kuchupudi and Bhagavat mela.
Bharata’s natyashastra does not give a definite description of this except mentioning that all Purvaranga vidhi’s are to be performed behind the Yavanika. Whatever details available are interpenetrations of later scholars.
The play Vasavadutta has the Queens maids disappear behind a curtain and Queen Vasavadutta enters screened by the Yavanika and her retinue of maids the screen is then removed.
Many scholars’ thinks Yavinka was made of a cloth got from Babylon or Yavana-pradesha hence Yavanika.
Abhinavagupta the later day scholar of natyashastra says a Yavanika is to be placed between the rangapeeta2 and the rangashira3 .Prof Ghosh calls it the screen between the Nepathya4 and Rangashira.
Most of the references to the Yavanika are from the Jain text books. Adipurana describes the silhouette of the dancer Neelanjana through the Yavanika. This indicates that it was a transparent material. Bahubali in his Bharata Purana describes it a cloth as thin as the fisherman’s net. Ratnakara another Jain scholar describes the intricate embroidery with jewels on the Yavanika.
The colours of the Yavanika are described as colours of the sunset, or colours of the cloud.
Tradition has it that the character jerks the Yavanika off as soon as the chaturashra gati is performed. Very rare descriptions of the Yavanika being gradually eased are got.
1. Sutradhara – the narrator.
2. Rangapeeta = actual acting space
3. Rangashira = elevated portion of the stage.
4. Nepathya = dressing room, green room or backstage.
• Bharata’s natyashastra MLBD publication.
• Sanskrit drama in performance-edited by Rachel Van M.Baumer and James Brandon
• Padagaati—Tulasi Ramachandra

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