You couldn’t have missed this immensely talented actor if you are a movie buff. Having essayed important roles in over 40 Bollywood flicks like Satya, Kaun, Josh, Jungle, Rakhta Charita, Hate Story 2 and Baby most recently. Always critically appreciated for his intense and unforgettable performances Mr.Sushant Singh became a household name as the host of the popular TV series, ‘Savdhaan India’. Not surprisingly, his wife Mrs. Molina Singhtoo belongs to the creative field. A renowned Kathak dancer, choreographer, Film singer and Theatre Actor she’s currently learning under the Odissi exponent Mrs. Daksha Mashruwala, a disciple of Padma Bhusan Shri Kelucharan Mohapatra. Coffee Bytes bring you excerpts from an exclusive interview with this effervescent couple as Sushant was in Bhubaneswar to support Molina’s first Odissi performance.

❏❏❏❏❏❏ by Shagoon ❏❏❏❏❏❏

Is this your first visit to Bhubaneshwar, how did you find our city?

Sushant: This indeed is my first visit, not just to your beautiful city but the state of Odisha as well. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I did not get to see the city. But from the little glimpses I saw, I was quite impressed. There is a lot of greenery and you can sense that this is a place rooted in art and culture. I must mention here that the Ministry of Culture has done a fantastic job of maintaining the Rabindra Mandap auditorium.

Given the fact that your wife is an Odissi dancer, how much of an interest do you have in the traditional dance forms?

Sushant: Well, being an artist myself I have always been attracted towards all forms of art. Ofcourse, ever since I met Molina I developed a finer understanding of the nuances of our Classical dance forms. Indian Classical dance forms are unparalleled, most complex, evolved and beautiful as compared to any other dance form in the whole world. Personally, I feel Odissi is the toughest and the most beautiful of all Indian Classical dance forms.

How did your love affair with Odissi begin?

Molina: Belonging to a family of classical dancers (Manipuri), I was exposed at a very tender age to the magical world of expressions, created by one’s body through movements entwined with music and rhythms. Being a rebel and a risk taker, I decided to learn Kathak, a dance form that was an opposite of the Manipuri dance in technique and style. After graduating from Kathak Kendra, New Delhi, Shree Ram Bhartiyakala Kendra the pioneer institute in performing arts invited me to join its ballet unit as the lead dancer. Life was happening as recognition and adulation was being showered in abundance. I’m also fortunate to have performed twice at the Rashtrapati Bhavan & was felicitated and complimented by the H’ble President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee. Phew! Long journey. I can’t compile it in few lines.

An eminent dance critic and an elder brother figure to me, Mr. Shyamhari Chakra had been following my work. He persuaded me to come to Bhubaneswar and learn Odissi.

While I was extremely keen to take up the offer, the thought of staying away from my family pegged me back. Thankfully, my husband, who has been my partner in theatre, my colleague, critic, a friend and also a guide really encouraged me to accept the offer. According to him it was a lifetime opportunity and as if destiny was knocking at my door. He agreed to take up all the responsibilities at home in spite of his busy work schedule.

I remember it so vividly, It was the 13th of Sep, 2015, when I reached Bhubaneswar with nervous excitement. Soon, Guru Lingaraj Pradhan introduced me to the basic exercises to warm up the body and the basic foundation steps of Odissi. Though I previously had a short fling with Odissi at Mumbai, the commencement of the real thing left me wondering If could cope up with it.

Your first Odissi performance in Bhubaneshwar! How was your experience?

Molina: Absolutely overwhelming! To perform my first solo in in the land of Odissi in the presence of masters of this style, well how much better could it be !

Who’s your Guru?

Molina: Guru Lingaraj Pradhan, who has been conferred with the ‘Bismilah Khan Youth Award’ by. At present he is the HOD, Dance at Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya.

Besides that a special mention about his wife and my Guru Smt. Sanjukta Dutta Pradhan, who is an equally talented Odissi dancer.The duo is a treat to watch on stage and I am fortunate to be under their tutelage.

How was your experience in Odisha and would you like to explore other parts of the state?

Molina:It was simply mesmerizing, enchanting and breath taking. Being a foodie I was instantly in love with the local cuisine. Had the blessing of Lingaraj temple ‘annah’. Yes my future plans include extensive exploration of all the places in Odisha. Mainly Konark, Puri, Cuttuck, Raghurajpur etc.

Your message to aspiring dancers?

Molina: There are no short cuts here. To excel one has to practice, practice and practice.

Have you ever heard of Oriya films and television industry, and given a chance would you like to work in Ollywood?

Sushant: Unfortunately I am not very well versed with the Oriya entertainment Industry, but yes Odisha has always and still does contribute a lot of talent to the Hindi film and television industry. As an actor, I am always on the lookout for exciting subjects and characters and if an Oriya director finds me worthy of their project I would be more than happy to learn the language.

Top 5 things that strike you about Odisha?

Sushant: Odissi, Pattachitra, Temples, the cuisine and the traditional crafts.

Any message for your fans and our readers?

Sushant: I am too small a person to give a message, I just want to convey a heartfelt thank you to all the people of your city and the state for showering so much love and admiration and I shall keep striving to make myself worthy of your affection. ❏

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