Alarippu, shabdam, varnam, padam – these were strange words for the audience in the packed auditorium in Washington. But as the young dancer from India, looking splendid in her traditional costume, explained each item before she began her dance, they began to understand the bhava (emotion), raga (melody) and tala (rhythm) ofmBharatanatyam.
About ten years ago, Sudha was a promising 17-year old dancer with more than 80 performances behind her. And then one day, she was injured in a road accident about 25 kilometers from Tiruchirapalli. Tamil Nadu, where the family had gone for their annual pilgrimage. Perhaps she was not treated properly at the local hospital where she was rushed. In any case, her injuries resulted in a gangrenous infection. When she was taken to Chennai, the doctors there tried hard to stop the growth of the infection. but finally they were forced to amputate her right leg from about eight centimeters below the knee.
In the terrible months that followed, Sudha’s search began to find a way of dancing again. “The day I met Dr. Pramod Sethi, I knew that my dream would come true,” she says. Dr. Sethi had won the Magsaysay Award for his development of the ‘Jaipur Foot – an artificial limb made from vulcanized rubber filled with sponge. Sudha acquired a ‘Jaipur Foot’ and began her determined journey back to the world of Bharatanatyam, learning to balance, bend, stretch, walk, twist, turn and finally, dance. Her doctors, her physiotherapist, her parents and her guru were all a part of her passionate effort. On October 27, 1982, she gave a Gurudakshina (a traditional thanks giving recital) at the residence of her guru. It was truly a miracle. What was the miracle?
On January 28, 1984, Sudha made a historic comeback by giving a public recital in Bombay (Mumbai). The performance was notable for its classical quality. Everyone warmly welcomed the return of the talented dancer. Her father K.D. Chandran say, “After every performance, Sudha used to ask,
‘How was it, Daddy?’ and I used to tell her that she still had to improve a lot. But on January 28, when she asked me the usual question, I didn’t say anything. I just touched her feet. It was my tribute to a great artist.”
Sudha’s amazing success story took an interesting turn when a Hyderabad film producer decided to make a Telugu film not just based on her story but with her in the main lead. Mayuri’s success encouraged him to dub the film in Tamil and Malayalam and remake it in Hindi as ‘Nache Mayuri and Sudha Chandran had yet another birth, as a film star. She has since acted in some three dozen films in several languages, and has also just completed producing a Kannada film Kalabhimani’ based on the true life of Balanna, a deaf artist who went on to become a great character actor. (Balanna, 74, has 400 Kannada films to his credit and is still in demand.).
Sudha says, “If Helen Keller could overcome her handicap so can I, is what I have always told myself.”
Point out similarities between Helen Keller and Sudha Chandran.
That, Sudha remarks, is what she replied to her Indian fans who wrote to her in the thousands: after the release of her films. “People wrote to say that they were inspired by my story and that it had given them new hope. I do feel thrilled that my message has got across.”
And what is that message?
“The seed of achievement lies in the human mind. When this realization comes. there is no looking back. Once I decided that my handicap was not going to stop me from dancing, that was it.”
“Dancing On” by Shailaja Ganguly
Answer the following Questions :
(1) What were the strange words introduced to the audience in Washington?
(ii) What did Sudha always do before her performances?
(iii) How did Sudha lose her leg?
(iv) Why did Sudha say “My dream will come true” when she met Dr. Pramod?
(v) Wha, was the turning point in Sudha’s life?
(vi) Sudha Chandran says towards the end of the lesson. “I do feel thrilled”. Identify why she feels so ?
(vii) How did Sudha get the opportunity to act in films?