SEASONAL HUES – Suchismita Ganguly Dance Company
Dance–Film Review and performance preview
by Debanjali Biswas
The film Seasonal Hues was shown at the Phoenix Cinema, East Finchley in London this summer. It is being adapted for stage and will be performed as part of Tower Hamlet’s ‘A Season of Bangla Drama’ at the Brady Arts Centre on November 4, 2022, at 7 pm.
Readers and performers familiar with Rabindranath Tagore’s songs of the seasons will have noted that the film returned every few moments to honour his musical legacy.
Suchismita Ganguly Dance Company conceptualised Seasonal Hues during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and filmed it after the lockdowns ended. UK-based dance artist Suchismita Ganguly deftly choreographed performers, non-dancers, and children to create the mood, lilt, and flow of the seasons of India. Although hemant (pre-winter) and shishir (winter) are not depicted in the film, the imagery and emotions of the seasons are present in the soundscape. Suchismita plays a nayika travelling through the sounds and colours of various seasons seeking for her nayaka. The heat of summer is punishing, the nayika is desperate to quench her thirst and longing. She briefly catches a glimpse of her lover amidst the torrents of rain. Her longing now tempered, she waits through autumn, and unites with him when spring is heady with floral scents and revelry. Dancing in a lush garden, Suchismita’s heroine moves languidly, elegantly. Angela Wilson superbly complements Indian music with movements from ballet. The integration of different artistic disciplines offers shining moments of harmony. Odissi by Priyanka Basu and bharatanatyam by Adity Roy and Debdatta Mallick enhance the choreography as they too express the emotions of the nayika in her loneliness and desires. This film is also the debut of Rajas Chitnis, Kayuki and Karabi Sen who as the nayaka and sakhi-s carry the narrative forward. Though they do not dance, what unites them is their commitment to storytelling and a presentation made for the digital and film-loving public. Suchismita’s students Mahika Mitra and Rai Bhattacharjee come across as young, enthusiastic artistes. What further connects all the performers after the COVID-19 lockdowns, was probably a desire to move out of their claustrophobic interior dwellings, towards dancing as an expression of much-needed ananda – joy.
Composer Rohan Roy’s music and Triparna Mukherjee’s voice are freed from the binary of Rabindrasangeet and classical music, as through various modes of expression they build a soundscape fitting to the changing of seasons. Their presence in the film as performers and not simply as playback artists must be lauded. They are stellar musicians who add distinctiveness to popular Rabindrasangeet with new tones and tunes. Dolon Sinha has written and produced the film and is also the proud owner of the garden in which Seasonal Hues has been filmed.
Shobhon Ahmed has artfully directed and filmed a breadth of artists. His practised eye behind the camera and editing translate to an aesthetically visualised film on belonging of many kinds.
Making such films is a way of taking the Bengali past into the future and will leave traces of how the diaspora can imagine new works rooted in the writings of their beloved poet.
Direction, filming & editing: Shobhon Ahmed
Concept & Choreography: Suchismita Ganguly
Writer & Producer: Dolon Sinha
Music Composition: Rohan Roy
Vocals: Triparna Mukherjee
Cast: Samaira Andaleeb, Priyanka Basu, Rai Bhattacharjee, Rajas Chitnis, Debdatta Mallick, Arpita Mitra, Mahika Mitra, Vijay Mitra, Adity Roy, Kayuki Sen, Korobi Sen, Amit Sinha, Angela Wilson.