When life imitates art during pandemic

Dancer Methil Devika was down with COVID-19 while working on production on ‘solitude’

Life imitates art. Methil Devika found that out recently, the hard way.

The accomplished Mohiniyattam dancer had come down with COVID-19 and was hospitalised for a few days. And this happened at a time when she was working on an international project titled ‘Ahalya’ on the theme of ‘solitude’ imposed by the pandemic.

Devika is one of the four Indian dancers commissioned by the Canada-based Sampradaya to make productions on the theme. Rama Vaidyanathan (Bharatanatyam), Aditi Mangaldas (Kathak) and Bijayini Satpathy (Odissi) are the others.

Devika showed all the classical symptoms of COVID-19 while she was on working on the music of her production. Besides writing the script, in collaboration with Valmiki, she would tell you, smiling, she has also composed the music.

“I was suffering from breathlessness, but the deadline to finish my film was fast approaching. So I sang the track in that condition and mailed it to my musicians,” says Devika. “It was indeed a severe form of COVID-19 that struck me.”

After leaving the private hospital in Thiruvananthapuram, she had to isolate herself in accordance with the COVID-19 protocol. That experience came in handy when she enacted the role of Ahalya during the shoot of her production.

“I chose the tale of Ahalya for my film because I thought we all could relate, during these tough times, to her isolation and loneliness as she waited for Rama to end her curse,” says Devika. “I interpreted her character from my own perspective rather than those of other poets like Ezhuthachan. After reading different versions of The Ramayana, I went back to the original work by Valmiki.”

The production, which she has choreographed and performed, is in the Mohiniyattam style, of course. She roped in ace cinematographer Madhu Ambat to shoot the film.

Ahalya premieres on shaale.com on May 9.

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