Bharatanatyam Danseuse Savitha Sastry and her husband AK Srikanth (Writer and Director) mark a decade of their revolutionary Bharatanatyam dance productions with Beyond the Rains.
Bharatanatyam Dancer Savitha Sastry and AK Srikanth, Writer and Director
Beyond the Rains is the first short film that is based on a gentle love story and a story of how the gamut of emotions of love are viewed by two different generations. The production will be released on February 13, 2022 on Savitha Sastry’s YouTube channel and Instagram.
Prior to 2012, Savitha mostly performed to traditional Bharatanatyam repertoires – referred to as Margams. The concepts for almost all traditional Bharatanatyam pieces are based out of Indian mythology – tales of Krishna and his escapades with Radha, or stories based on slaying of demons by Goddesses. The shows tended to garner modest audiences – mostly dancers themselves and their family/friends. Taking a leaf from cinema, Savitha and Srikanth decided to deliver novel concepts through the language of Bharatanatyam, in order that the huge numbers of audiences that were uninitiated with the dance form, or had no interest in Indian classical dance, could be shown the beauty of Bharatanatyam through what they refer to as an ‘edge-of-the-seat’ experience.
In 2012, Savitha Sastry performed her production – Soul Cages, which was written and directed by Srikanth. The duo had decided to give one such presentation and pack up their bags should it not be appreciated by audiences. That one show was scheduled to be at the Kamani Auditorium in New Delhi, on the 28th January 2012. What followed after the show however was beyond all expectations – Soul Cages went on to be performed over 25 times across India and the United States. Encouraged, the duo went on to produce Yudh (2013), The Prophet (2013) and Chains (2015). These productions were performed in over 100 shows across 14 countries between 2012 and 2018, including India, the Americas, Africa, Europe, South East Asia and Australia. Savitha Sastry was affectionately labelled ‘The Dancing Storyteller’ by media and her fans alike.
Since reaching out to large numbers was the objective, Savitha and Srikanth turned their attention to the digital world in 2018, much before the pandemic and the rise of OTT. They started off by archiving some of their stage productions, and quickly moved on to making their first short film titled The Descent (2019) – based on the emotions of a former superstar in a free fall from her reign. It was the story of yesteryears superstar Rajesh Khanna that inspired Srikanth to pen this story. Between 2019 and 2022, their other seminal works on film include The Awakening (2020), The Colors Trilogy (2020-21), and now Beyond the Rains (2022). Between these films, Savitha and Srikanth have been nominated at over 50 film festivals across the world.
Savitha also has built a community for upcoming dancers called The Inner Circle. Open by invitation only, this club has dance technique and fitness regimes available to all members, free of cost. This clique has over 3,000 members today, making it possibly the largest Bharatanatyam community in the world. Savitha does take on advanced students as well – possibly 2 or 3 at a time for a period of 2 years, who live with her in an immersive learning environment called the Gurukula. The program does not charge the dancer, and allows for the dancer to reside with Savitha and participate in lessons and film productions.