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BONDING… A Memoir
Vyjayantimala Bali with Jyoti Sabharwal
Hardback, ISBN: 978-81-904-559-1-6
PP 426, B& W Photos 149, Rs 695
 
   
Bonding
It all began on a European tour with her parents when she performed before the Pope in 1939, and earned his benediction. She was barely seven. Defying age, time and space, she’s still dancing in the new millennium. For Vyjayantimala, ‘everything begins and ends with dance’. That’s the raison d’etre of her very existence. Over these decades, her august audience comprised kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers, the high and mighty. Truly a roving cultural ambassador of India, taking its traditional heritage and goodwill to distant lands, she performed at Sarah Bernhard Theatre in Paris for UNESCO, Scala Theatre in London, and Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow in the late 1950s. And she had the unique honour as the first Indian dancer to give a Bharatanatyam recital at the General Assembly of United Nations, to commemorate the 21st Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, in 1969, receiving a standing ovation of the think-tanks of over 120 nations. Yet again, she was the first Indian artiste to dance at the International Opera House at Sydney, besides recitals at the Adelaide Festival, Royal Opera Ballet Festival, Stockholm, Holland Festival at Rotterdam, Middle East and Far East.
   
The acclaim for her performances stemmed from the most rigorous training she’s had under distinguished gurus of the purest classical styles. Her flawless tech­nique and remarkably individual interpretation created a benchmark. With such emotional concentration and spiritual dedication, no way did she compromise in her diligent pursuit of traditional art form, even when there was a sudden shift in her life – from the concert stage to the screen. As the celluloid world drew her into its fold, she shot into fame with her very first film in Tamil, Vazkhai. Within a decade, she emerged as the reigning super star in the mainstream cinema, playing covetous leading roles in Nagin, Madhumati, Devdas, Sadhana, Gunga Jumna and Amrapali. She was commended as a ‘stunning perfectionist’ in realistic portrayals. And her rendition in Sangam, indeed, was the confluence of her creative talent that propelled her to heights of dizzy renown.
   
She became the ‘southern sensation’ with ‘twinkle toes’, for never had an actress from South made it as a national star, more so, for her considerable legacy to Indian Cinema as an accomplished dancer. It was rare for an actress to be a supple dancer with classical training. An amazing feat, working on two parallel tracks, as critics and connoisseurs applauded her research work to revive the ancient and forgotten temple dance forms, like Nava Sandhi. Never once did her Bharatanatyam swerve from the most scrupulous purity of Tanjore style.
 
Dancing, acting, golfing, marriage, motherhood…and then came another shift – entering the portals of Parliament – becoming a veritable crusader to champion the cause of the underprivileged. Bonding… to a life that continued to pose challenges to keep performing at every given stage, weathering many a storm, she personifies grace and beauty that is timeless. Precisely the stuff legends are made of…!
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The virtue of Vyjayantimala’s Bharatanatyam art lies in the fidelity to an austere tradition. The exposition is sedate and exclusive in terms of classical purity. The Hindu
 
Of all the dancers who have been pursuing a screen career along with their art, Vyjayantimala has paid the most attention to austerity of technique, command over rhythmic footwork, and noble angularity of line…Her brilliant style of dancing reflects a commendable sense of originality. It proves that the scope for striking new ground in this art is unlimited. The Times of India
 
Vyjayantimala infuses grace and loveliness into all of her movements, combines gesture to gesture by a roundness of transition that makes her every movement mellifluous and flowerlike…This indeed is the ideal that we have cherished of the great beauty of this dance. The Statesman
 
With her vivacity and suppleness, Vyjayantimala enlivens Bharatanatyam with a rhythm and tempo so characteristic of her personality. Here is a dancer, whose skill is tempered with beauty and who uses the technique in a manner so as to create a pleasing effect... She excels in shapely statuesque postures. The Hindustan Times
 
Vyjayantimala’s creative and original productions bear the imprint of her characteristic purity and grace of line and form. Her footwork and rhythmic cadences are superb…She has convincingly proved that she is the greatest exponent of Bharatanatyam. The Indian Express
 
With the sheer purity of her movement, dignity of her personality, and a keen sense of balance, Vyjayantimala charms the audience. Deccan Herald
 
Vyjayantimala, the dancer is extremely beautiful, a person with feminine beauty as represented in Indian statue, with the delicacy of features, the figure, the expressions and absolute mastery of the technique of pure dance. La Revolution, Paris
 
Her budding grace and exceptional rhythmic precision are certainly impres­sive. She has the wonderful ability to freeze her limbs ever so gracefully from a whirling activity to a marmoreal pose. The Times, London
 
The Indian dance of Bharatanatyam, as performed by Vyjayantimala at the Opera House in Sydney was subtle and spell-bounding. The Sydney Morning Herald
 
Vyjayantimala has the grace of the Fawn and the charm of the Dove. A classical woman in a dance of the Spirit. The Hong Kong Standard
Life Times! The Times of India, July 12, 2009
 

 
MEMOIRS OF A RATIONALIST
 
Paperback, ISBN: 81-902247-3-5
PP 479, B&W Photos 32, Rs 350
   
   
A lawyer by training, a parliamentarian by conviction, a socialist in spirit – Vasant Sathe has earned a place of distinction in the history of Indian politics. Brought up by parents on Tilak School of Thought in the midst of the freedom movement, this young, fiery student’s passion to plunge headlong into this battle for the liberation of the nation from the British Rule set many a precedent. One such remarkable act was removing the Union Jack and unfurling the Indian Tricolour at the District Court at Nagpur, while facing a firing squad and police lathi-charge in the Quit India Movement in 1942, when he was merely 17.
Memoirs of a Rationalist
 
A boxing champion of Morris College, a linguist and commendable orator of Nagpur University, who coveted countless trophies, this connoisseur of classical arts defied the lucre of a legal career after graduating from Law College by taking up the cause of trade unions. And continued to work with industrial workers for almost three decades. Given his humanitarian ideology, he joined the Socialist Party right from its inception in 1948, and thereafter, joined the Congress under the leadership of Party Chairman Ashok Mehta, in 1964, fairly impressed by the Nehruvian vision of democratic socialism. Even before he made his debut as an MP
in 1972, from Akola Constituency in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, he led the Indian Delegation for the Human Rights Committee in the General Assembly of United Nations during the Silver Jubilee Session of 1970.
   
A close associate of Indira Gandhi, he witnessed the turbulent times with promulgation of Emergency in 1975, and went on to become the Deputy Leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party during 1977-79, as a voluble spokesperson of the Opposition. And also became instrumental in giving a party symbol of ‘hand’ to the newly formed Congress (I). Subsequently, he handled various portfolios with great élan, and his ministerial tenure in Information and Broadcasting, in 1980, became memorable, as he built bridges with media and film industry, fought tooth and nail to introduce colour television and also set up a network of Low Power Transmitters (LPTs) throughout the country, which today reaches out to more than 80 per cent of the populace. He ensured that Richard Attenborough’s film, Gandhi, caught in a controversial imbroglio, finally got rolling and projected on the screen. Known to have stirred a hornet’s nest by triggering a debate on the Presidential System of Government, he also pulled a lot of punches holding forth on restructuring of Indian Economy. Here’s a candid, delectable political memoir of a rationalist, which though packed with action, motion, and emotion, never loses sight of the rationale….
   
 

   
     
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