Entry by tickets of Rs. 50/- per person
Entry by tickets of Rs. 50/- each,
available between 11.00 am and 6.00 pm
from 5 May onwards at Sangeet Natak
Akademi, Rabindra Bhavan, Feroze
Shah Road, New Delhi
Katha Kavya Abhinaya
Innovative performances of dance / theatre based on Tagore’s literary works
7 - 13 May 2011, two shows daily at Meghdoot Theatre III, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi
Sharmila Biswas, Kolkata - Saturday, 7 May 2011, 5.00 pm & 9.00 pm

Sharmila Biswas is a leading Odissi dancer and choreographer known for her mastery over classical dance moves, as well as her experimental choreographic work. Trained by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, she has learnt the art of abhinaya from Shrimati Kalanidhi Narayanan. Sharmila has undertaken extensive research on the ancient Mahari dancers – the temple dancers of Orissa. Currently, she is imparting training to young dancers at the Odissi Vision and Movement Centre, Kolkata.

Sharmila has performed before audiences both in India and abroad; her dance amalgamates traditional and the contemporary elements. Within India, she has performed in the Konark Festival in Orissa, the ITC Golden Greats Festival, the Khajuraho Dance Festival, the Soorya Festival and the Kalidas Samaroh. Outside the country, she has performed at festivals in Britain, the U.S., Germany, and the erstwhile USSR.

Sharmila has received various awards and honours for her work, including the Uday Shankar Award for Best Choreography in 1998 from the Department of Information and Broadcasting, Government of West Bengal. She has also been awarded fellowships by the Department of Culture, Government of India, and Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi.


Samudrer prati - The presentation


Tagore's conception of the primordial mother as envisaged in his poem Samudrer Prati is at the heart of this presentation by Sharmila Biswas. Just like the samudra or sea, she is as mysterious as she is benevolent. It is this multi-dimensional mother figure, and the dynamics of her relationship with her daughter, that Sharmila seeks to exp lore through her performance. She does this through the use of six songs: three by Tagore Rabindrasangeet,
a song from Sylhet in Bangladesh, and two kirtans also from Bangladesh.

The mother's heart is the site of so many conflicting emotions, but paradoxically, all are at peace with one another.

That unfathomable tranquility, that uncrossable yearning
That cavernous silence, that joyous bubbling
That laughter, those teardrops!
'Tranquility; 'yearning; 'silence; 'joyous bubbling; 'laughter; 'teardrops; all coexist peacefully.

It is this peaceful enigma of the primordial mother that Sharmila Biswas expresses through her performance .


On seeing the sea at Puri

Oh age old life giving ocean, the universe your child

Your only daughter is in your arms. That’s why no slumber ever so mild

Closes your eyes. That’s why your breast is filled with hope and anxiety

With upheaval. That’s why there rises a scriptural half chanted plea

On eternally tranquil waves towards the god king’s guarded place

Internal eternal pleadings, hymns, for a future filled with grace

Resound in susurration. That’s why the sleeping earth

Receives countless kisses as your embrace surrounds every part

With the bonds of rippling surges tied, the blue breakers of your domain

With care her body encircle protecting each and every plane

Very gently very cleverly. What is this deep love play

Wave Ruler! In counterfeit guise pretend to go away

Step by step on tiptoe feet retreating to places far flung

As if you want to leave, then with ecstatic songs

In a rumbling rush of joy throw yourself on her breast

Ripple by ripple bubbling over, happy tears, and love’s pride blessed

The earth’s forehead is left moist glistening

By benediction. Your heart is always melting

With age old tenderness – when does that age end

Where its depths, its shore? Tell me who can understand

That unfathomable tranquility, that uncrossable yearning

That cavernous silence, that joyous bubbling

That laughter, those teardrops! As if you can never keep

To yourself that wealth of tenderness so deep

Intoxicated you hug the landmass hard

In cruel passion. Gripped so fiercely that peace is jarred

Held back breath is breath expelled screaming loud cries

While that love starved maenad with ardour it ties

Shaking and quaking almost breaking it all with its power

In endless unsatisfied greedy need nearly to devour

With fierce lust. The next moment as if greatly repentant again

Lies beneath the shore in stillness filled with aggrieved pain

Motionless unmoving. Very slowly morning from above

Looks tranquilly at your face with eternal love

Soothes you with a gentle hand, commiserates, disappears

To its dark sanctuary, then night lends a friendly ear

To that deep suppressed grief welling sob by sob….


Choreographer’s Note


According to the Book of Genesis, on the third day of creation, God commanded the waters to recede and make dry land appear. That is the most well-known of the stories of creation, and it is matched by legends from several other ancient cultures that speak of the emergence of the universe from an infinite expanse of waters. Tagore in this poem imagines a primordial sea in the process of giving birth to the world, tied to it by an infinitely deep love and longing, almost like a mother’s ties to its child, sometimes fierce and raging resulting in tsunamis, sometimes a gentle lullaby rhythm.
Samudrer prati attracted me because it portrays a mother with such a great deal of sensitivity. And perhaps a little because Rabindranath wrote this sitting in the beach at Puri. There is very little difference between his Adi Janani Samudra and today’s mother, and I could relate at once.

Samudra is not the kind of mother we dancers normally portray. She stands alone, not smothered by the guidance from her mothers and grandmothers. Nor does she have any other role to play. She is just a mother - naïve, impulsive, animal like, androgynous and completely guided by her inner source of wisdom.

While expressing the poetry in dance, I preferred to bring out the essence of the verses through my own interpretations and extensions. I have not used the words of Samudrer prati.

For music, I have taken the freedom of choosing whatever I found suitable to bring out the expressions of the Samudra. As a practitioner of Odissi Dance, certain folk songs and kirtans from Sylhet and Bengal-Orissa Border enchanted me. I learnt about their links with Orissa. These songs interspersed with three of my favourite Rabindrasangeet songs, helped bring out the spirit of Samudra – the mother.

— Sharmila Biswas



Dancers – Sharmila Biswas, Monami Nandi, Anuradha Roy, Nitishree Boyal, Ishani Karmakar
Choreography – Sharmila Biswas
Concept – Rituparno Ghosh and Sharmila Biswas
Music Composition – Pulak Sarkar
Special thanks to Mausumi Roychoudhuri for sharing information from her research on tradional songs of undivided Bengal.
Vocal support – Pubali Debnath, Shakti Roychoudhuri, Shubhoprasad Nandi Majumdar, Pulak Sarkar, Subroto Dey.
Percussion – Bijoya Kumar Barik
Costume design – Sharmila Biswas
Light Design – Gautam Bhattacharya and Neelay Sengupta

Overall Credit


Sadia Dehlvi

Text Advisor
Averee Chauray

Sound Engineer
Dilip Kumar

Technical Director
Gautam Bhattacharya

Katha Kavya Abhinaya Compere & Coordinator
Sadhna Shrivastav

Katha Kavya Abhinaya Design and Production
Sangeet Natak Akademi