Of Devas and Divas
October 10, 2008

In recent months I’ve been exploring a wealth of Indian classical music and dance on YouTube. Here are a few of my favourite discoveries…

First up are a couple of clips from a pair of films featuring Padmini (1932-2006), the multi-lingual (Hindi, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam) actress and trained Bharathanatyam dancer who starred in over 250 movies.

The first is from the 1956 Tamil language film Madurai Veeran. The song is entitled Aadal Kaaneero. The music is by  G Ramanatha and the lyrics by Kannadasan. The singer is M L Vasanthakumari.  

The second is from a 1954 Hindi language film called Sheev Bhakta. Padmini plays a devadasi, performing a dance of adoration dedicated to Shiva:

The next pair of clips are from the 1962 Tamil-language film Konjum Salangai, and showcase the mindbogglingly expressive talents of another diva of Indian classical dance, Kumari Kamala (1934- )

In the first, Kamala’s character – a court dancer – performs solo, while in the second she participates in an extraordinary 10 minute-long “dance-off” against a jealous rival that has to be seen to be believed!

Finally, here’s a rather funky devotional piece from the 2001 film Kottai Mariamman. I don’t know the identity of the dancer, but the green-faced woman with the trident is evidently meant to be the Goddess Durga; Indian films often feature such matter-of-fact interactions with Hindu deities: