Bar Dancer: Post Ban Performance at Ellora Bar (Live Music)
Director: Avijit Mukul Kishore; Cinematographer: Avijit Mukul Kishore
Duration: 00:10:21; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 323.117; Saturation: 0.138; Lightness: 0.144; Volume: 0.210; Cuts per Minute: 0.097; Words per Minute: 3.960
Summary: Dancing in bars of Bombay and other parts of Maharashtra began in 1970s. It was a device to attract more customers to the bars and boost up sale of alcohol. The Govt. initially encouraged it in order to increase their revenue. The practice also turned out to be a modernized version of commercial dance. It provided livelihood to large number of women including many migrants from neighbouring states and countries. Many women from traditional courtesan, devdasi and other such commercial dancing communities had opted for dancing in bars. As the feudal patronage dried up dancing at bars, other than in marginal capacity in Bollywood cinemas, became the only option for these women. In 2005, the Maharashtra government proposed to ban dancing in the bars on the pretext of public morality. The proposal sparked wide public debate on issues of sexual morality, women’s rights and right to livelihood. The civil society got vertically divided on the issue. Even some conventional women’s organizations actively supported the ban on the issue of ‘degradation of women’s body’. Some feminist organizations along with the Bar Dancers’ union came together to mobilize support against the ban. Still the Govt. went ahead and implemented the ban on 15th August, independence day of India, rendering approximately 70,000 women jobless. Several feminist organizations, bar owners’ associations and others filed cases against the ban in the Bombay high court. Majlis legal centre filed the case on behalf of the Bar dancers’ union.
This is a dance performance by a bar dancer during that time. The ban was already implemented and the bars were under strict surveillance. Hence the performance had to take place in the afternoon when the bar was closed. It was part of our effort to document the performances and testimonies of the bar dancers. In this event the bar dancer dances to live music played and sang by a group of male musicians, instead of recorded music. The presence of harmonium and table is reminiscent old mujra performances.
Indic family order
Mukkaddar ka Sikandar
Narratives in Trouble: Public Impulses and Private Desires in the 21st Century Indic-Kaushik Bhaumik
Annotation 1: Bar dancing in our times is a morphing of a realm of entertainment that has its origin in the labyrinthine folds of the Indic caste order through the ages. Although in practice bar dancers come from all castes but the framework of the sensory/aesthetic hierarchical thinking that sustains the order is rooted in the caste system. The 'modern' twentieth century version however is a direct result of the breakdown of the 'politics' of the Indic family order of an earlier time where dancing in the public could lead to becoming the Empress of Hindustan as is evident from the Mughal Emperor Jahandar Shah's infatuation with the bazaar dancer Lalbai. Under the protection of men the dancers of earlier times, roughly corresponding to the bar dancers of our times, were powerful pawns in a game of power played out between courts and peripatetic performing groups almost all of whom were registered as Criminal Tribes during the colonial period. There are strong reasons to believe that Padmini, the mythic queen of Chittor was connected in some ways to such a group.Next annotation
The song is from a popular flick 'Muqaddar ka Sikandar', directed by Prakash Mehra in 1978. But the song is still in circulation and often quoted as iconic doomed love affair. Performed by the superstars Rekha and Amitabh Bachchan it is a story of a courtesan and a local don. The tragic narrative of courtesan is a popular Bollywood theme. This song is often used in the dance bars to evoke romantic and seductive atmosphere. In the film superstar Rekha, the courtesan sings the song as a mujra, a traditional form practiced by courtesans.In this event the dancer Geeta, tries to evoke the mujra culture by dancing to the live music and interacting with the musicians. Mujra was the commercial dance form of the feudal era when the patronage was more personalized. Dance bar is more of a industrialized version of mujra where the performance and patronage, both are faceless and systemized. In this event the senior dancer tries to compensate for less vigorous foot work by extensive gestures and expressions. She also enacts the male part with a beer bottle.
(Hindi film song: Salam-e-ishq meri jaan / Jara kabul kar le / Tum humse pyar karne ka / Jara si bhul kar lo…) Salute to romance my beloved / Just accept it once / make the slight mistake of loving me…
peripatetic performing groups
salaame ishq meri jaan