Sanjay Leela Bansali might have wowed the world when he made Aishwarya Rai and Madhuri Dixit dance together in “Devdas”, but in a Bengali context the scenario bordered near absurdity. Bengali culture does not have any pronounced dance forms. Unlike north Indian marriages or festivals where folk-dances are an integral part, Bengal lacks any such practices. In some parts the Santhals or the other tribals practice their ritualistic and traditional folk-dances but it is confined to a region. A wedding dance called “Dhamail” was performed by the ladies of the house in some parts of East Bengal but it lacked any major limb movements and only the accompanying song provided the rhythmic beats. So neither do we dance in “baraats” nor do we dance during harvesting and neither do we have any age-old classical temple dance. Experimental dances popularised by Uday Shankar and his followers are a study in modernity, creativity and art and enjoy an exalted status far away from the common man.
“Devdas” a magnum opus of our times was a study in extravagance. People like me who have been brought up on the classics have a very different picture in our minds and hence the movie failed to leave any mark. Save for one little detail. Bengalis (mostly females) prefer to use the expression …. “eeeeesh” like a habit, but I had hardly noticed this until Aishwarya Rai had uttered it about a dozen times during the movie.

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