Indian Classical Dance videos – Film Division

If you came to this post, while looking for Bharatanatyam or dance related dance videos, then you are in the right place. However, if it was something akin to the ones that are sold in the market currently, then you might be a bit disappointed. Since this post got me motivated after watching a video of Baby Kamala/ Kamala Lakshman/ Kamala Lakshminarayan in Minai’s Nritya Gharana blog (The first one in this list of videos).  The following video links are obtained from the Film Division’s website, where numerous videos are available to watch. Here is a list that are about Indian classical dances. On a side note, in the Film festival of India 2010, there was a separate session called “Dancing Feet”, where dance documentaries were screened. Here is the list of documentaries that got featured and the schedule.

A word of caution: The videos are unfortunately in a small format, thereby making the images pixelated when seen in full-screen.

UPDATE: The film division website has underwent a major change and these videos are not available anymore. Although one can buy in VCD/DVD form.

Bharatanatyam (1980) by Jagat Murari

This features Guru Vazhoovur Ramaiya Pillai (at 5:25) and Kamala Lakshman in a breath taking documentary about Bharatanatyam. An avid blogger Minai, had covered this video recently. Click here for more screenshots and other links.

Padma (1997) by Suresh Menon

This documentary is about the Bharatanatyam dancer Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam, who did her PhD on the topic of Karanas and their Pan-asian influences. It documents her life, her family, her passion towards dance and her current (remember 1997) projects. It was a thrill for me to watch this video. It not only gives a glimpse of her daily life, it also documents the dedication of her in dance. To the question as to why she did not get married, her response shows her sense of humor.

Kanak Rele (1997) by G. L. Bhardwaj

Dr. Kanak Rele, by training a lawyer, a dancer by choice and passion. She also holds a PhD in dance. In the west, there exists a system of notation for dance called The Laban movement analysis. There have been instances where Indian classical dances were tried to be documented using this method. For example in this image, the laban movement of a gopika walking to the river is shown.

Click for a larger image

Dr. Kanak Rele pioneered a dance notation that is very much suitable for all Indian classical dances. In the video, one can see her comparing the notations of different styles.

Dance also cures (1987) by P. C. Sharma

This video features Dr. Kanak Rele, where the therapeutic effects of dance are shown. It is touching to see the smile on the faces of these children when they are learning dance. The documentary shows how the children are prepared for a show titled “Ahimsa” and they do the “Tarangam” aka dancing on the brass plates.

Sonal Mansigh (1980) by Prakash Jha

This documentary is as you guessed, about the dancer Sonal Mansingh. Her Bharatanaytam guru, late U. S. Krishna Rao talks about her. Her Orissi guru, late Kelucharan Mohapatra talking about how she started learning Orissi. Also, Dr. Sunil Kothari, Anjali Ela Menon, her mother also talk about her interest in dance.

Mallika Sarabhai (1980) by Arunaraje

While I expected this would be a video about Mallika Sarabhai, daughter of Mrinalini Sarabhai and the famous scientist Prof. Vikram Sarabhai, it was a pleasant surprise to see Mrinalini Sarabhai’s dancing as well. Double treat in one video!!! An interesting fact is that Mallika Sarabhai has a PhD in Organizational studies.

Birju Maharaj (1972) by C. Das Gupta

A old black and white documentary on the Kathak legend. Some interesting things about this video is how he got initiated into kathak, his abhinaya, and his riyaaz.

Damayanti Joshi (1973) by Hakumat Sarn

Unfortunately the video is not working. This documentary is about the famous Kathak dancer. (Update: the video is working!)

Kalamandalam Gopi (1980) by Adoor Gopalakrishnan

Adoor Gopalakrishnan is an amazing director. This and a following documentary by him shows how much he has given thought to details. Kalamandalam Gopi talks about his early life and how he got involved into dance. At 30 minutes into the video, his anecdote is quite funny. He says “Nothing works like a good beating”, referring to how he got beating from his guru for missing a small but crucial part in Keechaka Vadham. This is a very good documentary, ehere it shows how the makeup for Kathakali is made and also Kalamandalam Gopi is seen in different makeup, while recounting anecdotes.

Kalakshetra (2008) by V. Packrisamy

This is the preview of the documentary. If any readers find the full documentary, please do point it out to us. Some of us might recollect an earlier documentary of Kalakshetra shot in the 1984. For those, who have not seen it. here are the links (part1, part2, part3, part4, part5, part6)

Om Namah Shiva (1980) by Loksen Lalvani

This I think is a well made documentary and has a very lucid way of telling via dance the manifestations of Shiva. Mallika Sarabhai is the protagonist who visits the main Shiva temples and at each place, performs a classical piece. It starts from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari. I personally liked this documentary.

Mudiyettu (1980) bySukumaran

The Kerala dance form id documented in this video. The audio is terrible that nothing makes sense, until and unless the viewer knows about the art form. For new viewers, this video is a bad first choice to know more about the dance form. However, the process of makeup being applied on the performer is the highlight in this video.

Kuchipudi Dance Part II (1973) by T. A. Abraham

The legendary Vedantam Sathyanarayana Sharma performs in this documentary as Bhama in Bhamakalapam. The highlights of the video are the abhinaya of Vendatam Sathyanarayana Sharma and the wonderful “Bhama veni” or Braid of Bhama shown in the video. Although there is a Part I of the same title, I was unable to locate the video.

The Dancing Feet (1980) by A. Bhaskar Rao

This documentary is about the various folk dances of India.

Yakshagana (1979) by Adoor Gopalakrishnan

A beautifully made documentary on the dance drama of Karnataka. A well made documentary indeed.


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