Indian dancing as per Hindu mythology is considered to be a creation of Brahma. According to their belief Lord Brahma inspired the sage Bharat Muni to document the Natyashastra. All the temples and their beautiful sculptures elaborately narrate the tales of dancing girls. They were all beautiful, laced with fine jewellery and good health.
Throughout the Indian history the dance girls have been key to any form of celebration. India has been a rich land of devi and devdasis. Even the Indian Gods have enjoyed a good dance.The most powerful popular God i.e Lord Shiva is known for his Tandava. Other Gods as Kalis dance is symbolic of destruction and creation whereas Lord Krishna’s dance was a community dance with Gopikas and RaasLeelas.
Ancient India treated its dancers both male and female with much more respect and dignity.
So what led to the degradation of dancing women in this great free nation of seventy two years ???
The present day popular dances are mostly the dances, which are the parts of films shown on the screen and imitations of western dances. Popular art and dances are considered to be copies of western dances They are considered to be of inferior quality because of the manner in which they are produced and presented. The popular dance has a large audience. Popular dance is a mass production. It is meant for masses. It is not performed for any particular group or any particular individual.
Following are the chief characteristics of popular dance.
- Popular dance is a commercial activity. It is performed mostly for the entertainment of common people . Hence massy as its for the masses.
- It is vivid in experience and false in sensation.
- It changes according to public demand.
- It doesn’t have any major social functions to perform in society other than entertaining people and actually it aims at collecting
- The dancers dancing to the tune of the audiences in fancy costumes and the likes of Bollywood.
Popular dancing has been a matter of worry and anxiety for the moralists and classical dance artists. They always criticise popular dance and dancers because these dances are vulgar parodies of the other original dance forms such as, classical, folk or western dance forms.
The popular dancers are always very careful about the audience of their performances. They try to fulfil the popular demand . Their main interest lies in money and seeking popularity, which is mostly cheap popularity. In other words they produce marketable commodities in the form of popular dancing.
EVOLUTION OF DANCING FORMS IN BOLLYWOOD
In 1950s Bollywood, dancing was assimilated into their masala movies. It was the black and white era with lots of facial expression
1960s saw long dance numbers by trained Indian actress.
1970s cabaret style of dance popularized by the iconic Helen and Bindu
1980s disco era danced to the tunes of Bappi Lahiri
1990s Govinda style, advent of double meaning songs and outburst of controversies with added dose of vulgarity. Indie –Pop, MTV, channel V exposing the Indian masses to the western pop form via these satellite channels.
2000s fusion of various dance styles. Indo-western. Plenty of reality shows giving platform to rural dancers and other masses who could not dream of ever going to the busy Mumbai had a chance to make a mark in the dancing arena.
Bollywood has usually been the space of all items numbers and objectification of the leading ladies with a very few exception. And the hits songs with fast numbers, raunchy looks and other trends as hit Bhojpuri numbers make it to the dance floor of the bars and other private parties were the dancers perform.
Dance has today become a kind of visual gimmick, constantly evolving and being taken to unimaginable heights. The dancing space in India is in a unique position to delve into its traditional forms, while constantly learning from its global counterparts. And we can only wait and watch what wonders this creates!
However there is another popular form of dance done by the erstwhile Bombay Bar Dancers and those performing to the gazing eyes of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar and other northern belts of India.These nach girls cater of the other Indian sensibilities of patriarchy , machoism etc.
SHADY SAD LIVES OF DIRTY DANCERS
In 2005, when the Mumbai dance bars were shut due to the new court order, around 75000 women were making a living by dancing only. Things changed for such desperate girls who came from the lowest strata of the society.
What has the State done to rehabilitate these thousands of women who lost their jobs overnight?
There is no answer yet. The prime groups, moral police, self proclaimed rakshaks and custodians of Indian values have just played another gimmick politics of saving Indian culture. God only knows of whichever religion when in India women will get a safe haven or a decent way of living on her own terms.
The rich bar dance girls moved to perform for greener pastures in the middle eastern countries and the poorest migrated to the north of India. Many were also forced into prostitution to feed their near and dear ones.
In the northern region of India, weddings and other life initiation ceremonies are incomplete without the thumkas of local dance girls. From where did these girls come from? Many are believed to be ex-employees of the infamous Mumbai dance bars. They migrated to the north again and dance to the tunes of Bollywood item songs or other folk massy hits.
Sapna Choudhary: She is a famous contestant of the hit reality show Bigg Boss 11 in 2017. She is quite a celebrity paid dancer up in the north. However she had quite a turbulent personal life.
The reason behind Sapna’s depression was that some people didn’t approve of her profession and even called her vulgar for the same. Furthermore, two cases were also registered against her for hurting the sentiments of Dalit community during her performance. That is why she suffered from depression and tried to kill herself.
Hailing from Haryana, Sapna is a stage performer, who entertains people with her jhatkas and thumkas. Many titles have been given to this stage performer, out of which the one that defines Sapna in a few words—she is “Anaarkali of Haryana”, who earns her livelihood by simply performing for people on various Haryanvi numbers. Interestingly, unlike Bollywood, Sapna doesn’t require a set of background dancer or fancy attires to make her act a hit. She is too talented and confident of what she does. After her national appearance in Bigg Boss season 11, she has made dance appearances in Bollywood Hindi songs as well as some other musical numbers.
Other female stage performers: Delhi-based Harshita Dahiya did not live to tell the tale. When she had filed rape charge assault against her brother in law she was shot dead by him.Another young performer just twenty five year old Kulwinder Kaur was shot dead by a alcoholic in the middle of her dance performance. This instance happend in December.
Getting caught in celebratory gun-fire, fending off advances from rowdy men and organizers who are always luring them into prostitution are just few of the daily challenges faced by the Indian nach girls. Such visual pleasures give them the right of such men to have complete control over these women’s bodies and wishes.
In a very repressed sexual country men who are consumers of such entertainment feel its their complete right to do as their wish. There are no checks on such shows. It is definitely poverty stricken families and for survival that these women perform at such dark parties.
Being born in a third world and areas where being born a destitute female comes with little options . In States like UP, Bihar, Haryana and Punjab such parties are display of wealth and power. The powerful politicians along with the educated burecrats are the audiences to enjoy the young women performing to their tunes. It’s a space to do gun firing, make the girl dance to raunchy numbers, make them do as they please.
So inspite of many years of independence for this great nation many women are absolutely voiceless, unreported and invisible.