Chronicles of a master dancer

Updated: Aug 3, 2020

Virtual Bharat's latest video Manu Master chronicles the life of a Bharatanatyam dancer from Kodungallur, Kerala. The short documentary is written and directed by Shruthi Namboodiri with background score by Sudeep Palanad.

Description on the Youtube video goes like this:

He can unlock a mahamantra with a single pose. He is man. He is rebel. He is master.

In the 1960s, in Koolimuttam, Kerala, a man called Abdul Manaf set his heart on Bharatanatyam. He wanted to study the devadasi style of the classical dance, a tantric tradition, which the British had banned in a move to stamp out a huge pillar of Indian culture. But Bharatanatyam had fought its way back.

Abdul Munaf was not allowed to learn the dance form due to his name. But like his chosen dance, Abdul too was a rebel. Abdul changed his name to Manu, the name his mother called him by, and proceeded to study the art form, rising to become one of its most towering figures.

The artist in Manu Master, accepted no limits. To him an artist's love for his art is no less than the love of the Creator for all his creations. When Manu Master dances, the air moves differently. When he moves, we are hypnotised. A legend who can change the energy of a room even from a screen, can bring unexpected tears with a simple Mudra, while not even present with the viewer...this is the magic of Manu Master.

Says Sudeep Palanad who composed the background score;

"During the World Music Festival organised, that had Shruthi Namboodiri also in the team, we had done a small video on Manu Master, in connection with Kerala Piravi. Doing a documentary on Manu Master was Shruti's concept and dream. During that time Bharath Bala contacted us to do an elaborate video on him. The current video is a product of team work.

Shruthi Namboodiri

With Manu Master, he had given us complete freedom, with the music and all aspects of the video. We had to be very careful too, as we were dealing with very specific mantras and sanskrit verses. But the support from all quarters was heartening.

We are blessed we could bring to screen, the life journey of a legend, a master who can make even a small movement of his hands look poetic."

Sudeep Palanad

Virtual Bharat is a series of 1000 stories from across India produced by Bharat Bala Productions.