Healing through dance

Amrita Prasad
Thursday, 11 October 2018

Chatting up ballroom dancer-choreographer Sandip Soparrkar, who will be acting in the Hindi play Jannat Central, being staged in the city this Sunday

Dance and drama may be two different performing arts but they are often juxtaposed in theatre for visual impact while telling a story. Aabracadabra Entertainment and Events and T-Pot Productions have beautifully married dance and drama in their play Jannat Central which will be staged in the city this Sunday. A psychological thriller, Jannat Central explores love and friendship. It has award-winning theatre artist Trishla Patel, Shashank Vishnu Dutt, Mithun Purandare, Jaya Virlley, Sandip Soparrkar, Vedika Singh amongst others in the cast and has been directed by Trishla. 

Noted choreographer Sandip Soparrkar plays the role of a dancer who employs dance to connect with his daughter and help her heal. Jannat Central is about a teenage girl — J, who relives her good memories through dance. Her friend and roommate — Nutty — supports her every step of the way. But the arrival of a long lost friend — Bobby, throws her cocooned world in flux, bringing her face to face with her demons. J’s struggle to come to terms with reality is a thrilling. It’s a psychological journey explored through dance, one that eventually unravels the true meaning of jannat.

Talking about his association with the play, Sandip, who feels that dance and drama are the two sides of the same coin, says that when his student Trishla approached him to play the part and showed him the script, he was in awe of it. “The story is very different. Although I have done many stage performances for my own dance productions, Jannat Central is my first performance as a theatre actor where I’m saying dialogues aloud. Emoting the feelings of a song through dance is one thing and acting in theatre and bringing out different emotions through your voice and facial expressions is another,” says Sandip.

The play shows how dance can cure and heal. There is an amalgamation of different dance forms in the play — Kathak, rumba, samba, sufi, hip hop and Japanese Butoh dance — each dance form depicting a different personality. Each one of us has different personalities — one for social media, one that we show to our lover, a new shade that comes out in front of our children and so on. And every dance form too has its own personality,” says Sandip. 
Though his role is not meaty, he feels happy being a part of the project and working with Trishla and other young cast and crew.  “Sometimes if feels funny to be directed by your own student. Nonetheless, Trishla is a taskmaster who is too disciplined about her work. Everyone in the team is so young, perhaps in their 20s and I feel like an old uncle among them. They have some amazing ideas and add new perspectives to the act. In some of the scenes, I feel, if I had directed it, it would have been old and cliched. But Trishla has added so much freshness to the play,” Sandip says.

When asked about the relationship between dance and healing, he says that dance helps one look within and understand oneself. “We all have problems and we all go through situations that are not always favourable. Dance has been looked at as entertainment, a medium of education, a tool to raise funds, but dance is like mediation too. It heals you from within and helps you discover yourself. It teaches you to accept yourself and be who you are — good, bad, positive or negative. Once you have found yourself, that’s when you find jannat, that’s your nirvana,” he quips.  

The choreographer says that it was tough for him to get the right grip on a few words to be able to voice them out correctly on stage. He feels privileged to be a part of Jannat Central as it is giving him a chance to break away from the stereotypical mould of being a dancer and choreographer. “I am happy that I am able to impact lives of people through Jannat Central as it also talks about mental illness. People associate mental illness with the word  pagal. But mental illness can be a result of fear, of one’s past or certain incidents, hence there shouldn’t be any taboos or shame associated with it. Parents must tell their children that they are with them, come what may and that they must accept their life as it is,” he adds.
Sandip also holds a doctorate in World Mythology Folklore from the United States. So when asked if dance has enough of mythology in it in contemporary India, he says, “Yes, mythology, no matter which era or age it belongs to, has a certain leaning which is relevant to the present times. If we don’t learn a lesson from it, we are foolish. I don’t look at mythological characters as gods or goddesses but as teachers — we mustn’t repeat the mistakes they made, and if at all we do, we should know how to come out of them, just as they did. Kalia Naag in today’s time is a river pollution. Chopping off Surpanakha’s nose is a symbol of insult which teaches us that if we insult someone, destruction may befall. Draupadi’s vastraharan is still happening when women are being raped and molested.” 

Jannat Central will be staged on October 14 at Nehru Memorial Hall, 4 Ambedkar Road at 8.30 pm. Tickets available on www.bookmyshow.com

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