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Home > Discover Mumbai > Art and Culture > Personalities > Mahesh Madhubani

 Mahesh Mahbubani 

Stop living in your heads, start living in your body - Mahesh Mahbubani

Mahesh Mahbubani, Dancer - ChoreographerFor dancer-choreographer Mahesh Mahbubani, theatre and dance is an all-consuming passion. Mahesh is one of the few theatre personalities in the country who does not work in search of instant fame, money and glamour. Rather, this talented dancer has quietly devoted himself to strengthening the theatre-dance movement. A graduate in Classical Ballet, from the Labon School in London, theatre choreography is his past, present and future. Currently, Mahesh has been responsible for choreographing Stravinsky's 'The Soldier's Tale', an artisitic production presented by the British Council.

With a diminishing number of viewers and actors deserting plays for greener pastures, Mahesh has formed the Naach Theatre Company in Mumbai through which he hopes to spread the real essence of theatre. Mumbaibest got in touch with Mahesh, and spoke to him about his love of dance and theatre.

How did you enter the field of dance ?

I started to dance at the age of 17, and I am 37 now. My journey with dance and theatre started at the Labon School in London, where I did my Bachelor's in dance forms. In that school, the emphasis was not on any particular dance form but more on the style of dance movements. My life changed completely after studying there. After coming back to India in 1995, I was really thrilled to give the people what I had gained and learned over the years. I started to work with people from different disciplines, and mould their talents together in order to give a new shape to Indian theatre. In London, our teachers used to say, learn traits of all dance forms, then strip off the particular style to develop your own style.

Don't you think that lack of money for theatre and dance is what is hindering people from entering this profession ?

I agree that this is the least paid profession, considering the amount of toil that goes behind every scene in front of the audience. I do not want to see my people juggling for pay in theatre, and this is precisely the reason, I ask them to go out of the theatre and earn money. Only passion is not sufficient, you have to take care of your stomach. In the life of a theatre person, the time comes when you hang like a pendulum between greed and the heart. And priorities differ from person to person. But once they have taken the decision, they should not lament over it.

You have already tried your hand in Bollywood. Tell us more about your new ventures and experiences in Bollywood ?

I did two commercial movies, one was Taal, where I danced in one song, and in Takshak, I choreographed one complete song. I have worked with Ila Arun, the recent work I did was with Stereo Nation. Whatever I do in life, I want to thoroughly enjoy it. One thing is sure, you are bound to get stereotyped once you enter showbiz. There, your image is important, not your qualities as an actor. Today, if you take any music album, there is less emphasis on dance. There is an entire narration of a story where the essence of dance evaporates. It become more like a short film.

Do you have any plans of making your own album ?

Yes, I would definitely go in for a dance album. It will be a montage of images with a parallel story going hand in hand. The emphasis will be on the body language, then, on the story and space. People tend to forget the importance of body language, the movements of bodily parts, which I want to restore, through my dance and theatre.

You talk about lack of awareness towards dance among the audience. India being so rich in a dance culture, what do you think is the reason behind the plight of this art form ?

The Naach Theatre GroupYes, that is where the whole problem lies. Our culture is very rich. We have dance and drama in our day to day life. See our festivals and films, where even a single scene cannot move ahead without dance and songs. Today it has become an integral part of our life. And that is the reason why we fail to give dance and drama its due as an art form.

Strengthening the theatre movement in India is your dream. But is the present situation as well as the audience receptive enough for theatre with dance or such kind of activities? If yes how you intend to go about it ?

I agree that we all need sometime to come out of a set mind. That is why I keep telling people around me to stop living in your head and start living in your body. My aim is to teach people how to connect dance with life, or movements with life, and to teach them to empower their body image.

I have learned almost 9 different dancing languages. Generally, when I opt for a play, I enact the piece in front of all the troupe members and ask them to improvise on it. I give the final touches with my skills of proper use of space, light and body language. All I want is for entertainment to become meaningful. My philosophy is to create logic on the floor. Through my performance if I can raise a question in even a single mind, my work is done. I want to help people in resolving questions that arise in their minds rather then swim in it, and I believe theatre is the best medium.

By: Sharmistha Chakraborty

 
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