Feature film on devdasi tradition awaits release

Mumbai, Jan 13 One more film on the touchy subject of the devdasi (temple dancers devoted to god) tradition prevalent in some pockets of India is awaiting release in March or April.

Sunday, January 13, 2008 | 9:59:29 AM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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Mumbai, Jan 13 (IANS) One more film on the touchy subject of the devdasi (temple dancers devoted to god) tradition prevalent in some pockets of India is awaiting release in March or April.

The film, Harward Entertainment's 'Pranali - The Tradition', exposes the darker side of this system of temple dancers marrying the presiding deities of shrines and dedicating their lives to their 'divine husbands'.

The film depicts the story of a poor girl in a village on the border of Karnataka and Maharashtra, who is married off to a village deity and then condemned to become a prostitute by people from the higher social strata.

Director Hirdesh Kamble tries to convey a true picture of the life of a devdasi by narrating how the girl bears the stigma of being a devdasi and struggles to discard it.

The film has been produced by Nikhil Mathur, who heads the Harward Group of Companies, which has varied corporate interests, including financial engineering, fund managements, investments and securities and realty development in India with foreign collaborators.

The company has also ventured into entertainment, media, advertising and communication services.

Kamble had earlier assisted directors John Mathew Mathan, Mahesh Bhatt and Vikram Bhat. Well-known singer Kailash Kher makes his debut as music director with this film.

After Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Devdas' (2002), this is the film that renowned Kathak exponent Pandit Birju Maharaj has agreed to guide and advise creatively - especially in the 'tandav' dance (dance of Shiva) sequence included in the movie. Otherwise, dance director Saroj Khan is the choreographer.

Nargis (of 'Garam Masala' fame) plays the title role of Pranali, the devdasi.

Hirdesh, Kamble and Manoj Pandey have written the story and screenplay respectively; and the cinematographer is Najeeb Khan.

The devdasi tradition still exists in some pockets of India, where the temple dancers are looked upon as a repository of culture. The kind of life they lead and hardships they endure have been the theme of many well-known novels.

In South India, in particular, a few movies have also been made on the subject. The most recent one was 'Sringaaram - Dance of Love,' made by debutante director Sharada Ramanathan, a Ford Foundation executive.

'Though devdasis exemplify feminism, womanhood and emancipation, they are low in the social caste hierarchy,' Ramanathan had said when her film was screened at the 38th International Film Festival of India.

Some time ago well-known director Kalpana Lajmi had planned to make a film on the devdasi tradition with Rekha and Priyanka">Priyanka Chopra">Priyanka">Priyanka Chopra in the lead. But she has put the project on hold for the time being.

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