Sentinel Digital Desk
| 9 Dec 2022 11:34 AM GMT
Megharanjani is a classical dancer of international repute and has also made a name for herself as an actress in the Assamese film industry.
Will you please tell us something about yourself, especially how you forayed into the field of classical dance
MaramiMedhi, my mother is a renowned Kathak exponent and JoyprakshMedhi, my father a reputed vocalist of Hindustani classical song, composer and music director of Assam. Being brought up in an environment of song and dance it was natural that I take to one or the other. My mother was my Guru and from the tender age of three I learnt all the Kathak steps from her. To support me was my father who composed the music for my dances. You could say that it was all in the family. I also love singing but could not pursue both singing and dancing due to my studies. I have a brother Surya Prakash Medhi, six years younger to me, a commercial pilot by profession but who also sings very well.
Apart from your motherdid you learn classical dance anywhere else?
Yes. I was trained under the great legend Padma Vibhushan awardee PanditBirju Maharaj. I passed Nritya Nipun in Kathak from Bhatkhande Sangeet Vidyapeeth Lucknow in 2009 securing first division. Next, I completed my masters from Indira Kala Sangit Vishwavidyalaya, Chhatisgarh in 2014 with the highest score.I also attended various workshops under the great legends (late) SurendraSaikia, who was a renowned Kathak guru of Lucknow Kathak Kendra and Guru Pt. Rajendra Gangani of Jaipur Gharana.
I have also been awarded scholarships from The Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT ) and also a 2 year senior scholarship from the Ministry of Culture, Governmentof India in 2009.
I have also undergone training in Sattriya Dance and completed Nritya Gunin from Sangeet SatraPariksha Parishad Assam in the 2017.
Apart from these which were the base on which I ventured onto stage; the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) India selected me as a panel artist for Solo Kathak in 2012.
I am also a graded artist of Doordarshan Kendra in the field of Kathak dance.
When did you first perform Kathak in public and which are the places where you have had stage shows?
My first public performance was at Shankardev Kalakshetra in Guwahati when I was only five years old.
I have a long list of performances on the national as well as international stage.
These include Luminato Toronto Festival of Arts and Creativity, Canada, 2011, a tour of Egypt, Israel, Palestine and UAE sponsored by ICCR -in 2014. I also accompanied my Guru to `India by the Nile Festival Egypt, the Olam Moffat Theatre of Israel, the Al Kasaba Theatre of Ramallah Palestine, Sarjah Heritage Festival and Indian Embassy. Dubai. I have performed solo in New Zealand which was sponsored by ICCR in 2016 at Auckland and Wellington Diwali Festival and at the celebrations of Dr Bhupen Hazarika’s Birthday at Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2016 I have also performed in China in 2017 and Dubai in 2019..
My performances at the national level began with the Sadhana Festival of Dance, New Delhi in 2008 and theVasantotsav, New Delhi in 2010 and 2011. Since then I have had innumerable dance performances at the national level and to name a few more in the past few years are UttaradhikarFestival , Bhopal, 2019, Nimard Festival , Madhya Pradesh, 2019, Celebrating North East, New Delhi. 2019, Siddha Festival , Ujjain, 2019, Octave Festival, New Delhi, 2019, Utsava Music Ganga To Kaveri , Chennai, 2019, Aardh Kumbh Mela, Allahabad, 2019,Prayas in Guwahati, 2019
Gopi Krishna Mahautsava , Mumbai, 2019 and VandeMataram Festival, New Delhi in 2021.
During the lockdown period I did various performances online
At home I recently performed during the Guwahati visitsof Union Minister Amit Shah to Guwahati, Rashtrapati Draupadi Murmu and Union Minister Rajnath Singh, allthis year.
My last performance wasPrag Cine Awards, Nagaon in 2022
What is your most memorable experience as a dancer?
The turning point in my career was attending the Luminato Toronto Festival of Arts and Creativity, Canada in2011.
I performed the character of Mumtaz along with another Kathak male dancer from Canada as Shah Jahan in a dance theatre entitled Taj. The high point was sharing the stage with
with renowned Bollywood star Kabir Bedi and Lisa Ray. The stage was into two with Kabir Bedi and Lisa Ray occupying one and enacting the drama only through dialogues while we did it throughthe medium of danceIworked under the choreography oflegendry Guru Kumudini Lakhia. The shows ran to packed houses for three days and we all won accolades. It helped immensely in my growth as a dancer.
Tell us something about your films?
Films happened simultaneously. I would say that dancing and acting are not mutually exclusive of each other. In Kathak and other classical dance forms Abhinay– facial expressions along with hand gestures of different human emotions is an integral part of these dances. Along with these is the body language and costumes which add to the Nat and Nritya.Moreover, my mother had also acted in a very popular movie called Rickshawala and several telefilms as well, so we were part of the crowd.
I admit that acting in front of a camera is different from a stage performance but my first director Rajesh Bhuyan put me through my steps in first video film Lakhimi, which I did when I was in class 11. The role was that of a class 11 school girl and it fit me to the bill. The film, a love story was very well received by the audience. The other films, all video films, I did were Abhimani Mon, PurnimaJaanmoni,Rumaland Kasijun. I was a directors actor as most of the roles I essayed were that of girl in love stories. It was with Anuradha that I matured into doing a part which was challenging. Anuradha was my first big banner movie which was released in the cinema halls of Assam. I had to portray an older woman – about thirty-five to forty years of age, who faces a lot of trials and tribulations after marriage,
Have you been offered any more films?
Yes, there have been several offers but I have become choosy after doing Anuradha. I would like to now essay roles which will allow me to both emote and act.
What are the other things that you have done?
I have been a part of many TV commercials like Tata, Mahindra , Jet Wings, etc. I have also acted in the tele serial Tumi Dusokut Kajol Lole, which I enjoyed doing.
What are the awards you have won?
I have beenawarded a Gold Medal in the Inter College Youth Festival , Guwahati University for 5 consecutive years – 2007 , 2008 , 2009 , 2010 and 2011, www.awardcouncilofindia.com awarded and gave me the title Dancing Queen of Assam. I got the Best Actor award by Nebcus Media awardsin 2010 – 2011 and North East Leadership Award for Best Actor for the film Anuradhain 2015– 2016.
I again got the Best Actor award presented by Nirirod Samudra for the film Anuradha in2016. I was presented the Young Achievers Award in the field of Dance by Dalmia Cement, Prag Cine Awards in 2018. In 2019 I was given the Women Achievers Award in the field of Dance by DS Creation. The Basanti Devi Anajori Award in the field of Dance was given to me in 2019and IIGA Awards in the field of Dance by Golden Roof in 2022
What else are you into?
I teach students in my parents’ dance school, Sur Sangam. Kathak is a classical dance of north India. Here mostly people know about Sattriya and I would like to promote Kathak among the people as well.
I have also done innumerable shoots for music albums where I have to act a part. Some albums are also based on dances.
Apart from these I haveconducted many workshops in India and abroad as an expert of Kathak Dance in various places like Barpeta, Tezpur , Nalbari , Bongaigaon, Lakhimpur, Guwahati , Kolkata, Bangalore, Kota, China, London, New Zealand, etc.
I am also included in the workshop portal by SpicMacay. Apart from these I am called on to inaugurate some event or business establishment In Dibrugarh I had opened the Lakme Salon at Dibrugarh and recently I unveiled the all New Grand Cherokee at MaheshMotors Private Limited in Guwahati. The car has a stylish look and latest feature and will be liked by the people of Assam.
In what way did you inspire the people during the Covid 19 pandemic?
The pandemic period was a very trying time for all of us. I gave a public message through a TV channel asking the people to stay indoors and follow all the guidelines which the government had set and the Covid 19 protocols as this would keep them safe. I tried to show them that there were many things that could be done by sitting at home. I showed them that I had cooked Biryani and watched TV. I told them that with the closing of the dancing school, Sur Sangam, set up by my parents the small children were not being trained. In order to keep them engaged I made different dance videos showing different steps and mudras and uploaded them in WhatsApp so that they could learn from these videos. I tried to show the people that there was a lot that could be done if one put one’s heart to it.
Tell us about something about your personal life?
My family is a close knit one. In fact, I rented a place close to my parents’ house as I wanted to stay near them. At this age they also need me. We are also building a house in which we can all stay together.
I married Neil Das last year. He is an Assamese film actor and we met on the sets of a film we did together. Recently in Hyderabad we also did a dance drama in which we both played the roles of Radha and Krishna. He is very loving and supports me in all that I do. He is a very good cook and we always cook dinner together. In fact my hobby is cooking and I thought I was a better cook but now I find that he can rustle up some super delicious dishes. I also like to do interiors.
What are your future plans?
I would like to open a dance company and production house. It will be a joint venture as I am into both dancing and acting. In the dance company I would like to hire or appoint professional dancers and the students who I teach in my parents’ dance school, Sur Sangam, would be my first preference. We have got students from abroad and we could go for cultural exchange programmes. I would also like to go for production of movies.
What advice would you like to give to the younger generation?
All I would like to say to them is to follow their passion but that they should not be looking to make a quick success. This kind of success does not, I believe, last long. They should go for hard work, have determination and most of all be patient and surely, they will succeed at the end.
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