Anita Ratnam Talks to Devi Ravi

Goddess Saraswathi depicted in Ma3ka. Courtesy

Devi: How do you think the production of Ma3ka is different from your previous productions ?

Anita: Every performance of mine is different & unique. I can proudly say that they have never been done before. I take a personal angle and then weave mythology stories most suited into each of my work. My productions have mostly always been based on celebration of Goddesses & Women.

Devi: What’s your thinking behind the choice of your music for the production?

Anita: I am very particular that some element of Carnatic music is present in all my performances. The numbers may vary. We use many types of sounds with the help of very able professional musicians & technicians. Unlike conventional style of working on a dance production, I work on my Choreography first & build the music around it. So the music is shaped and produced to mould itself into the choreography of the dance to bring out the mood and message being portrayed. A theatrical cinematic approach.

Devi: Would you cater differently to an Indian audience living abroad?

Anita: Expectations are very different between locals & an NRI audience. It is my personal opinion that the Indian audiences in India today are less conservative and ready to welcome new and fresh approaches compared to western audience or NRIs. Having said, that I have many devoted to my Programmes both here and abroad. Students who study Visual Communications & Theatre for example, attend my productions regularly. Bharatanatyam itself has become very cinematic these days. They are like Celebrity Page 3 items.

Devi: What was the most valuable feedback/compliment you have had?

Anita: I love a responsive audience. So when there is active audience participation like at Krishna Gana Sabha recently some even danced, that is the biggest compliment for me. Audience cheered on the Lakshmi segment. About feedback/compliment, I tend to zone out after my performance. I am very much open to constructive criticisms, but there are seldom any. My audiences normally mention that they can relate to many or one of the segments of performance. A lady came up to me & said that she could relate to the daughter segment of the MA3KA, not music or costume or even dance.

Devi: What are your contemporaries’ feedbacks on your performances? I noticed that you had Prof. Sudharani, Chitra V & Leela Venkatraman right there in front in the audience?

Anita: Bharatanatyam dancers of Chennai attend all my performances. There is always mutual respect amongst us. They are very encouraging & appreciative of my work. NRI performers & teacher are still very conservative in their outlook, if you ask me. In my productions Bharatanatyam base is still there, but I won’t classify myself as a Bharatanatyam dancer, rather contemporary artist. Lots of my Theatrical knowledge goes into the performances. There is always lot of story telling in my work. I used Revathy Sankaran in the performance for audience involvement, bringing a new outlook & effect. She was wonderful & the audience loved her.

In Anita Ratnam’s own words a poem she wrote on her website she says:

“Its performance time

regular mundane demands

A Light Show followed by Dark

Let me comfort you with linen napkins, before I take you to afterglow!

Well, I was certainly basking in the after glow of both Ma3ka and the interview with Anita Ratnam.

[The above is not a verbatim reproduction of the interview but reflects what Anita said in so many words].