Bharatanatyam dancer Savitha Sastry’s new film combines dance and storytelling to discuss gender roles
Renowned Bharatanatyam dancer Savitha Sastry and her writerdirector husband AK Srikanth’s new short film titled Colors: Green has just won the Best Film on Women award at the Calcutta International Cult Film Festival. The 15-minute film, the first in a trilogy, which explores the role of women, creatively uses Bharatanatyam as a medium. Savitha, who is also known as the ‘dancing storyteller’ in dance circles, features in the film as the protagonist. The narrative follows an unnamed homemaker. When the monotony in her life starts impacting her mentally, the woman realises that the only thing that could perhaps give her joy is dance. But she has to live up to the expectations of her family by fitting into the norms set by society. “A woman’s role is set so much in stone, it feels like she is stepping away if she doesn’t want to be the primary person looking after the children or providing for her family,” explains Savitha.
The idea to make a trilogy of films dedicated to women was her husband Srikanth’s idea. The danseuse says her husband always wondered about the stereotypes of women that have been created by society. “For a long time, Srikanth watched dance recitals and wondered how Bharatanatyam typecast women. The stories would revolve around Sita and Draupadi, and would show the travails of how Sita was banished to the forest or Draupadi was disrobed by the Kauravas. He questioned if in the modern context husbands would be quiet if something like this were to happen to their wives. This in a way led to the idea of making the trilogy,” offers Savitha. The duo was inspired by the tricolours of the national flag, and explored each colour using a different concept. While green stands for prosperity in the national flag, the makers took the liberty of presenting it as the prosperity of the mind. “Prosperity of the mind implies a person’s freedom of choice and that’s what we have tried to discuss in the film,” she says.
Behind the scenes
The backstory of how the couple embarked on the journey of making dance films is interesting. During a workshop hosted by them, one of their young students challenged the duo. “Our student said, ‘you have narrated a story that lasts an hour. We millennials may not spend an hour watching it, can you tell the same story in a matter of five minutes,’ recalls Savitha. This triggered the thought and eventually, Srikanth wrote our first film The Descent (2019), a story about the rise and fall of a star.” The Descent was recognised at several film festivals. Green has also been nominated at the Golden Bridge Istanbul Short Film Festival. Going forward, the duo is working on the pre-production of White, the second film of the trilogy, and is planning the third film, Saffron.
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