Speaking to TNM, Pudukkottai collector Kavitha Ramu, who conceptualized and choreographed the viral video, said, “Chess pieces like the rook, kings and pawns naturally lent themselves to classical art forms. , folk and martial.”
Effortlessly wielding the kombu (staff) and eliminating stereotypes, women Silambam artists take positions as pawns in a recently released chess video, while Malyutham artists draped in Veshti attire Gada (a type of club) take command as mighty towers. With queens and kings looking majestic, Therukootu performers dressed in vibrant costumes with exquisite make-up and mirror-encrusted adornments appear as bishops. In a fun cross between the game of chess and the folk and martial arts forms of Tamil Nadu, we also find Poikkal Kuthirai dancers taking the lead as knights wearing colorful horse-like carvings around their waists.
The various pieces of the chessboard come to life through dancers and martial artists in the 3.48-minute video released by the Pudukkottai District Administration to promote the 2022 Chess Olympiad. The video titled ‘Chaturangam: A Dance Performance’, which was unveiled by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on July 27 caught the attention of social media users who praised the team.
Sharing the video, CM Stalin tweeted: “District administrations have taken various initiatives to promote #chessolympiad22. This beautiful video is made by the Pudukkottai District Administration in which classical, folk, Mal Yutham and Silambam artists magically transport us to a world of creative fantasy, transforming into live chess characters, featuring the essence of the game in its true spirit.
Led by Pudukkottai collector Kavitha Ramu, also a trained dancer, the title of the video is inspired by the Indian version of chess known as Chaturangamwhich roughly translates to “four limbs” or “four arms” due to the old army divisions of cavalry, elephant, cart and infantry.
Speaking to TNM about the conceptualization of the video which has now garnered thousands of views, Kavitha Ramu said, “The idea for the video stems from the fact that I am a performing artist with 25 years of experience. experience. When we were asked to make a video to promote chess, I immediately thought we could create a video with a lasting impression through dance. The performing arts have ample opportunity to present a visual treat and based on the response to the video, we could see how this makes the message more impactful. Chess pieces like the rook, kings, and pawns naturally lent themselves to classical, folk, and martial arts forms.
Watch the video here:
District administrations have taken various initiatives to promote #chessolympiad22. This beautiful video is made by Pudukkottai District Administration in which classical, folk, Mal Yutham and Silambam artists magically transport us to a world of creative fantasy,
— CMOTamilNadu (@CMOTamilnadu) July 27, 2022
The black and white pieces dancing through an epic showdown on the chessboard, are accompanied by upbeat background music and flashes of fire streaking across the backdrop, building the tension between the two sides. The audio team included KK Senthil Prasath, who imagined it with Kesavan Chenda and other senior artists, Kavitha said. Just like the captivating visuals and music, the blue light on the white side and the warm yellow lights on the black side also add to the smoothness of the choreography. “The breathtaking visuals were shot by Vijey Raj, while Narendra Kumar choreographed and performed the dance like chess moves,” explained Pudukkottai collector Kavitha. Even the video’s title card, which uses gold accents to evoke a sense of grandeur, was reminiscent of Game Of Thrones title track acclaimed and received praise from many.
Dancer Priyadarshini, an alumnus of Pudukottai School of Music, tries out for the role of the black queen, while Sahana, an alumnus of Adyar Music College, Chennai, is seen as the white queen. “I spotted Priyadarshini at a Women’s Day event and thought she would be a fit once this idea was conceived. Sahana and I have been collaborating for a few years now,” Kavitha said.
Credit: Screenshot/ Twitter – @CMOTamilnadu
Credit: Screenshot/ Kavitha Ramu
Behind the scenes photos from the shoot. 1 credit
The Srinivas and Manikandan dancers play the white and black kings respectively. Kavitha added that the Poikkal Kuthirai artists featured in the video are from the MPR folk arts development center, while the silambam artists from the Murugakani Asan troupe of Thiruvallur appear as pawns guarding the kingdom on the chessboard. Performers from Purusai Duraisamy Kannappa Thambiran Paramparai Therukkootthu Mandram in Kancheepuram district formed the rest of the cast.
The whole game takes place in ten moves before reaching the climax of the video where one of the teams checkmate the other. Interestingly, Kavitha Ramu jokes that this part of the choreography sparked a creative discussion among the artists. “I insisted on performing the original chess moves, but other artists on the team felt we could take creative liberties,” she remarked.
The video, which was filmed over the span of a day, ends with the black queen eliminating the white king. The symbolism behind the video cannot be ignored. “It was a conscious decision to emphasize that the white king was defeated by the black queen. It was a shot that represented how we have to get rid of the interpretation that white/fairness is more beautiful. There was also a gender angle,” Kavitha observed. Notably, the color black is often seen as symbolic of Dravidian identity. Social movements and political parties like the Dravidar Kazhagam and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, for example, have used the color black extensively in their flags.