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Odisha: The Genius of Kelucharan Mohapatra

Odisha: The Genius of Kelucharan Mohapatra

Mahaguru Kelucharan Mahapatra

It takes a while for the magic of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, the bewitching beauty of the sway to the tunes of Geeta Govindam, to get into your sinews, but when it does!

by Dhrutikam Mohanty

When you saw him for the first time, a bald, lankyand dark man dancing Odissi…

…when you saw him dancing to the tunes of Geeta Govindam by the legendary poet Jaydev…

…when you saw him swaying with the nuances almost in a feminine manner…

…when you saw him for the first time on Doordarshan some thirty years ago, when you saw that…

First it felt funny.

You had seen Hema Malini.

You had seen Meena Kumari…

You had seen Vaijayantimala.

You had seen… but well, did you see a bald, lanky, dark man dancing Odissi?

But wait… watch for a while, and then the magic of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, the bewitching beauty of the sway to the tunes of Geeta Govindam gets into your sinews.

Tarun Bhattacharya performing at the festivalA noted Sanskrit poet of India writes on this Guru: Saango-paanga-subhangi-laasya-madhuramsamteerna-nrutyaarnavam, which translates as – “Each fraction of his dancing body leads to paramount sweetness, through miraculous poses and postures. In fact, Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra crossed the ocean of styles.” (Wikipedia).

In his youth, Kelucharan Mohapatra performed Gotipua – a traditional dance form of Odisha in which young boys would dress up as woman to praise Lord Jagannath.

This year, owing to the exigencies of the ongoing pandemic, Srjan had organised the 26th OMC Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award Festival from September 5th to September 9th2020 at 8 p.m. on a digital platform. It premiered on Facebook Live and YouTube

This was not unique to Odisha. Even in Bengal, when women were restricted from being seen in public on theatre or dance stages, male youth would act as women, suitably attired.

But that is where Guru Kelucharan veered off from just a performer to a danseuse of the highest order.

Later in his life he did extensive research on Gotipua and Mahari dance, which lead him to restructure Odissi dance.

Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra was a master in percussion instruments ‑Mardala and Tabla, which clearly resonates in his dance compositions. He was also skilled in the traditional Pattachitra painting.

Kelucharan Mohapatra along with his wife, Laxmipriya, herself a dancer, and their son Ratikant Mohapatra established Srjan, a cultural organisation, in 1993.

dancer - purva dhanashriSrjan recognises the need to sustain creative energy and artistic endeavour while fulfilling its social responsibility to the public and the members of the art fraternity.

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This year, owing to the exigencies of the ongoing pandemic, Srjan had organised the 26th OMC Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award Festival from September 5th to September 9th,2020 at 8 p.m. on a digital platform.

It was premiered on Facebook Live and YouTube.

September 5th marked the commencement of the Award Festival.

Upholding their commitment towards diligence and professional excellence in their service to art, the programme was seamlessly conducted on various online platforms.

Srjan dedicated this year’s festival in memory of the late Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj, who shared a special and close association with Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, for many decades, and to Jaydev Das, veteran director of theatre, actor, light designer and member of the advisory board of Srjan trust, who left for his heavenly abode in March this year.

 

The author Dhrutikam MohantyDhrutikam Mohanty  

Dhrutikam Mohanty  is well-known in the field of journalism in Odisha. He has been working in responsible positions in leading media houses of the state since more than two decades and authored three books on varied subjects. Presently, he is heading the digital edition of Sambad, the largest circulated Odia daily.  

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