Passion, Dedication and Hardwork personified, Kala Master

Reshmy Krishnakumar; Photo: Anwar Sadath Thalassery
Thursday, January 31, 2019

To meet a person, whom you wanted to see for years, is a pleasure and when that turns out to a chance for being with that person and share few moments, it is a pleasant privilege. IIK is so happy to have one of those talented and sought-after dancer and choreographer, Kala Master, sharing her experiences, thoughts and feelings with the Indian expatriate community of Kuwait.

IIK: We are so happy to have you here with us, Master.

Kala Master: Thank You so much. I have been to Kuwait many times for various shows and I love my people here. I am overwhelmed at the love and care they have for me and I am so happy to communicate with them through indiansinkuwait.com

IIK: You are here to inaugurate your dance school Kalas Kalalaya. Tell us more about it.

Kala Master: Kalas Kalalaya is my dance school which has got various branches in Chennai. Also, we have 2 branches in Canada managed by a hardcore supportive Srilankan family settled in Canada and the classes are being handled by two of my students who got settled there after marriage. It is just 7 months after we started, and they are doing really good. They even did a small show recently with good dancers from both branches. Offers are there from other countries too.

Now we are starting in Kuwait. As I told you, I have been to Kuwait many a times. The people I met here are so good at heart and straight forward. Within the few days I spend here for a program, I could feel that true affection. Even in Chennai the life is so monotonous and formal that at times we feel the lack of that attachment, which I get in abundance here. Now they are all my friends. I find it comfortable working with them for my school. Here also we have expert trainers from India to handle the classes.

IIK: Is it the friendship that drives you forward?

Kala Master: At my workplace or otherwise, I have a very warm relationship with everyone, but a strong friendship was evident only with my mother. She was my world. I was never a person who hangs out with family or friends. Rather I would love to sit and think and my whole thought process was centered on dance. The desire was to learn and do something new always, from choreography to the reality show with a difference. When she left us, I was totally depressed. But that was the time when I realized the true love and care of people around me. Now I have friends wherever I go and it is their support which is moving me forward.

IIK: How do you go about establishing a branch?

Kala Master: Kalas Kalalaya has already set a brand value and people approach our school with an expectation. I cannot compromise with it. It is not easy to get a competent management who can make it to the quality and perfection which we offer. As I am moving around with shows and schedules, I can be personally available only once in 3 months or so. This makes it all the more important to be vigilant when we choose a management anywhere in the world. Thankfully, I got such a team here in Kuwait also.

IIK: There are many dance schools in Kuwait and Kalas Kalalaya is the latest addition to it. What makes it different? Is there any career option?

Kala Master: I am not here to compete with any of those schools. My dance school is the result of my wish to do something in dance. Soon I am going to start a web series and if a talented child wishes, I can use him/her for my web series, or some stage/reality shows, or wherever feasible. I am here to help them in any way possible.

IIK: So, the classes are basically for the kids who love cinematic style?

Kala Master: No, we handle all styles including hip-hop, bollywood, hollywood, contemporary etc. by field experts, not only for kids, but also for ladies, both working and housewives. Mentoring and training a child is completely different scenario. For them we give the basic classical training. I believe that whichever be the style of dance you follow, it has the basic principle lying in our classical dance forms itself. So, with the root fixed in classical forms, they can do any dance forms neatly.



IIK: Is it difficult to train ladies when they look upon dance as a mode of exercise?

Kala Master: Speaking about Canada students, they wanted to control their increasing weight, which is a big problem in their lifestyle. Lack of exercise and the daily stress gave chance for depression also to creep in. Till now the ladies who came to us already had a basic knowledge. They were all classical dancers and got disengaged due to various circumstances which life threw on them. According to me, since they already had a love for dance, it is the best method of exercise for them. Leave the styles of dance; just see the modern fitness programs like zumba and aerobics. They are all based on music and dance. When they are given a chance to dance with the favourite songs of their choice, exercise and entertainment occurs simultaneously. Our sessions are a combination of dance, yoga and meditation and they are benefitting from it.
IIK: You have seen the dance growing over years. As a choreographer, how do you see the transition that happened?

Kala Master: For a choreographer it is a continuous learning process. From classical, rap, disco, break dance, hip hop, and jazz to latest trends, it’s all the various forms of one little word DANCE. If you have a basic knowledge of our traditional classical dance, then any other dance form is adaptable for you. The mudras and steps are the same. But when you style your body differently while using those mudras and steps, you get into another dance form. It is just like the different versions that we try of a traditional dish made by our mother.

IIK: What is your primary concern while doing a filmy choreography; overall storyline, particular situation, character, or any other factor?

Kala Master: All these matters, but it is of course the main storyline and the character which stand first, especially in Malayalam film industry. For example when I worked for the film ‘Oppam’ in Malayalam, the character Lal Sir played was of a blind man. So I had to keep that in mind and give light movements. Otherwise it will not gel with the film. He too did it so naturally. I got award for the best choreography that year for the work in Oppam. Discussion with the film director is very important and always helpful.

IIK: What if an artist is not a good dancer to reproduce your steps or movements?

Kala Master: That challenge is always there for any choreographer and that is where the beauty lies. Every artist has got different styles and capacities. When you have to handle more than one of them in a movie, you should know how to balance it and to balance that, is the art behind it. I have a very friendly relationship with all the artists I worked with, and that too helps a lot. I approach them keeping in mind their style and try to build confidence that they are able to do it. I have seen many improving their dancing skills from the first film till date.

IIK: Talking about Malayalam industry, you have worked with almost everyone and now the next generation is lined up. What do you feel while working with them?

Kala Master: Malayalm film industry is like my family, very close to heart. The senior artists are all my close friends. Now their sons and daughter are entering the industry. They are all so talented and some of them are my students. I am happy that they also consider it very special working with me.

IIK: I have never seen you sitting tired at the location. What is the secret behind your energy while on shoot?

Kala Master: It is purely my love for dance. Not that I never get tired. Even if I am tired, the desire to give the best in me keeps me up. Once an assignment is taken up, I cannot be at peace till I get the best outcome. I don’t like to take rest and simply waste time.

IIK:You have done many challenging projects. Tell us about it?

Kala Master: My life itself is a challenge and every project is challenging for me when I try to create something new into it. Stage shows and other live events are more challenging where the result is on spot. For a show to be success, if 1000 people are present as the audience, every single person should appreciate it. The 800 dancers at 1996 Miss World event at Bangalore was one such experience under the direction of Priyadarsan Sir. Another memorable one was the All India sports event where I had to make a group of 7000 policemen dance. All, including my family, was surprised when I took up the assignment, but I was ready for a try. It took days of patience and gradual effort, but I succeeded. I cherish the memory when I was appreciated with a Gold medal for the same. The list goes on and the last one being the Guinness record episode of Maanaada Mailaada on Tamil channel ”Kalaignar TV” with the creation of ”Largest Ames Room Illusion”. Such a record is for the first time ever in the worldwide television industry.

IIK: Coming to Maanaada Mailaada, what is so special about it that you accepted the offer?

Kala Master: A choreographer being the director of a dance reality show itself is the specialty of it. When Kalaignar TV approached me for the show, my only demand was ‘freedom’ because when a dancer is holding a reality show on dance, it should be different and I should have that freedom to use my creativity. They guaranteed it and that is what you see on screen today, with the 10th season running successfully with a Guinness record. A supportive team is behind every achievement.

Kalaignar TV is a complete Tamil channel and the difference of the show starts from its Tamil title. Though we take all language songs for dance, the whole ambience in my show is Tamil, starting from anchor script to the communicating language. Being born and brought up in Tamil Nadu, I love Tamil culture. Tamil literature is part of our culture and we should not leave any chance to promote and nurture it. These things are the root, holding us to our culture.
IIK: Do you think that our new generation is lacking the chances to know our roots?

Kala Master:The trend is like that, but it depends on individuals also. Wherever I go, I tell people that our kids must learn their mother tongue and learn to respect their tradition. Wherever you are in this world, try to speak your mother tongue, at home. That itself will create a bond with our culture and will make a difference. My parents and husband is from Kerala. I make sure that my son understands and follows each and every myth, values and beliefs in our Kerala family tradition, even though we live in Chennai. As a parent, I consider myself responsible to make my child grow up understanding our values and the strength of our beliefs and customs. If we as parents fail, it will end up in disaster, as what we saw in Sabarimala recently. I believe that every custom in every religion has got its own importance and value. We have to respect and follow it and only parents can teach their children about it. Maanaada Mailaada is one such chance for me as a responsible teacher.

IIK: Do you think the reality shows are helping a child?

Kala Master: Yes it will help a child follow his/her passion provided he/she is ready to work hard. A talented child who is coming from a low financial background gets an exposure and many a times they get absorbed to the industry very fast. It can really change your life. But the choice is theirs, whether to continue the learning process and work hard. We have examples from reality shows who did really well in the dance filed. If you have determination and a mind to dedicate, reality shows will act as a stepping stone for your future, financially and professionally.



IIK: Now you are starting a journey in Kuwait, how do you see it?

Kala Master: I am so happy. Here the team is very good, lovable and supportive. We have our trainer from India and the response is also very good. The happiness doubled when the very first wish, just before the inauguration, came from the great artist Mohanlal Sir. I was told that he was also in Kuwait for another function. When I called him he was surprised. We could not meet here, but when someone, whom you know for more than 30 years, wish from heart most unexpectedly, that makes the moment memorable.

IIK: What you would like to tell our readers?

Kala Master: Education is the primary important thing for any student. But it should include academics and extracurricular activities, be it sports, dance, music, painting or anything. I would like to request parents to make it possible for their kids to learn their desired activities along with studies. We have 24 hours in hand and don’t waste time without doing anything. Be energetic and active by being engaged in something or the other of your choice.

IIK: It was pleasure meeting you. IIK wishes you all the very best for all you projects ahead

Reshmy Krishnakumar is working with Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) as Research Assistant. Having done her post-graduation in Statistics, she worked as lecturer at St.Teresa’s College, Ernakulam, until her relocation to Kuwait. As a freelance writer, she is contributing to various magazines, blogs, and websites. Her passion includes classical dance, writing poems in Malayalam and Hindi. She is a member of the Writers’ Forum, Kuwait and the Indian Women In Kuwait (IWIK)
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