Friday, December 16, 2005

The Making of a Guru

Ileana Citaristi, Manohar, thehindu/2001/08/19
A carefully documented piece, this is the work of a lifetime of learning and adulation. Ileana Citaristi, accomplished Odissi dancer, who trained under the great Kelucharan Mohapatra, has, in her work, recalled the times and works of the greatest Odissi dancer that India has seen. Her book opens with the story of Kelucharan's childhood, its ups and downs and how furtively he entered first the world of dance. But Baba Kela, as he was rechristened by his parents, was destined to greater glory and fame and even at a young age had the makings of a good dancer/ actor. Despite the limitations of adequate reference points as well as documented work, Citaristi has done a commendable job in putting together the first ever documented version of his life. As his student, she has had access not only to Kelucharan but also to some of his closest associates as well as being party to the tremendous growth that he managed to carve out for Odissi dance. The book has some rare photographs of the guru and his various associates. Even with age Kelucharan's ardour and passion for his dance form has not diminished. He continues his role as a mentor to his students. And though the book is not a slick production and its writing is rather pedantic, it is definitely a goldmine of information.

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