Rachana Narayanankutty ready to test new waters

It is not the greasepaint she dons while playing her characters in films that enamors Rachana Narayanankutty. Rather, it is the anklets on her feet while she dances that give her immense joy, for in the rhythm and fluid body movements; there is liberation of her soul. She has been learning dance since she was three-and-a-half years old and first performed on stage when in Class II. The talented dancer is proficient in Mohiniyattam, Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam and has also choreographed several dance dramas and is currently pursuing her PhD in Kuchipudi. What is news is that she will be debuting in Tamil through a role that is very close to her heart.

Rachana will be seen in the Vinod Mankara directed film Nithyasumangali, in which she will also be donning two other caps — that of an assistant director and a choreographer.  The role of Jayashree Menon in Nithyasumangali is as close to reality as it can get, for she plays a research scholar — something she is in real life. “The role is something I can perfectly identify with because I am pursuing my PhD,” she begins, going on to talk about the film. “The story moves forward through my character. The film is based on the devadasi Muthuvellammal about whom not much is known. So using that as a base, Vinod developed the story further.” The film looks at the life of Muthuvellammal, the custom of devadasis, their life of abject poverty after the system was abolished and the social stigma they faced. The role of Muthuvellammal is played by the famous dancer Prateeksha Kashi, whom she is friends with.

Donning the role of an assistant director has been the fulfillment of a long-held dream. “I used to direct dance dramas, so direction is something I’m acquainted with, though it is the first time that I will be assisting with a film,” she mentions. That Rachana is serious about pursuing filmmaking is obvious when she divulges, “I am planning to study filmmaking at an institute in New York. The only hitch as of now is managing to learn filmmaking and finishing my PhD,” she exclaims.  Coming to the choreography part, Rachana will be dancing and choreographing Sadhir — the pre-colonial temple dance form of Tamil Nadu. Not an easy task, as she explains, “There are not too many devadasis now, but luckily my Guru Vasanth Kiran told me of one 89-year-old devadasi R. Muthukannammal and I met and talked to her in Chennai. Sadhir is a very different dance form and I am going to learn from her.”     The first schedule of the film is over and the second one will start in April.
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