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article imageIndian filmmakers planning documentary on mudras

By Sravanth Verma     Sep 11, 2014 in World
The Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) in New Delhi, India is joining hands with the Kerala Kalamandalam to make a documentary film on mudras.
Mudras are the intricate hand gestures used in various India's classical dance forms and folk arts, as well as in yogic practices and Vedic rituals.
The documentary will be directed by N Radhakrishnan, and octogenerian who has eight documentaries on Indian art forms to his credit. Radhakrishnan says the documentary will explore the evolution of the mudra, right from its roots when gestural language rather than verbal language was the mode of communication.
The documentary will especially focus on the use of mudras in classical dance forms of the coastal South Indian state of Kerala such as Kathakali. "We find that there is continuity in the usage of mudras in Kerala right from the Vedic rituals to classical dance forms like Koodiyattam, Mohiniyattam and Kathakali. This continuity is not seen in other parts of India," said Advaita Vadini Kaul of IGNCA.
Kalamandalam Ramachakiar, a master performer and teacher of the Koodiyattam dance form says, "Gestural language is a full-fledged mode of communication and mudras are similar to alphabets of this language. The combination of mudras creates words and sentences."
Radhakrishnan estimates that there are around 1500 mudras when both the arts and various rituals are taken together, with 1200 mudras in the Kerala dance forms of Kathakali, Koodiyattam and Mohiniyattam alone.
"I have been working on the project for the last couple of years. This is my dream project and I intend to complete it by January," said Radhakrishnan. The documentary will be between 12 to 14 hours long and filming is set to begin in October after the Onam festival.
Historian and professor Rajan Gurukkal is enthusiastic about the project. "Documenting them in audio-visual forms with the help of the limited number of the seasoned practitioners and masters who are surviving is very vital for many studies."
The documentary is also planning to include the Anyonyam, a well-known contest held every year at the Srirama temple in the town of Kadavalloor, when contestants recite various portions of the Vedas verbatim.
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