‘Colors’- a trilogy of short films created by AK Srikanth (the Writer and Director), and performed by Savitha Sastry culminates on Independence Day with its third part Colors: Saffron.
Savitha Sastry in Colors: Saffron
‘Colors’ refers to the three colours of our national flag, and the trilogy is a series that juxtaposes the life of a woman today, with the visions that our founding fathers had when India got its independence. The first part ‘Green’ was released in September 2020, and ‘White’ in April 2021. Colors: Saffron along with the first two parts of the trilogy Colors: Green and Colors: White can be watched on Savitha Sastry’s YouTube and Instagram.
The colour Saffron in the Indian National Flag represents strength and courage. In their production Savitha and Srikanth present a story of strength and courage of a woman in extreme adversity. Colors: Saffron is set in a dystopian, undated period in history where women who go against the norms of society are placed in a camp called ‘The Cell’, with their memories wiped clean. This is the story of one woman in the cell who starts getting visions of her past, and soon completely realizes the enormity of the crime committed by society against her so called ‘transgression’.
If ‘Green’ was presented with a sense of realism, ‘White’ conveyed like visual poetry, then ‘Saffron’ has been made to hit the viewer with an unprecedented intensity and ferocity. Choreographed and performed by the ‘Dancing Storyteller’ Savitha Sastry, the production showcases some of her best dance sequences filmed yet. Combined with breath taking locations and a powerful narrative, it is safe to state that the production reaches a zenith in the appeal it has to connoisseurs of Bharatanatyam, and to the uninitiated. Writer AK Srikanth’s story, while here as a short film, comes to life as it was written. And it is that much richer as an experience for all.
In the span of last eight months, Colors: Green and Colors: White have won several accolades. Colors: Green has won The International Film Festival of Shimla and Calcutta International Cult Film Festival. It was also the semi finalist at Jaipur Film World 2021. On the other hand, Colors: White has won Best Director, Best Film on Women, Best Film on Performing Arts and Best Actress Award at World Film Carnival, Singapore; Best Director, Shorts at New York International Film Awards, USA; Best Short Film at L’Age d’Or International Arthouse Film Festival, India and Best Director at Rosarito International Film Festival, Mexico.
‘The Dancing Storyteller’ and ‘Renaissance Architect of Bharatanatyam’, are some of the affectionate epithets that have been given to Savitha Sastry by the critics and the audiences at large.
Savitha Sastry has been recognized in the world of Bharatanatyam for her technical prowess for over the three decades she has been performing. Through the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, she mostly performed traditional repertoires, but did take steps towards full length thematic productions through her work such as ‘Purushartha’ and ‘Krishna – the Supreme Mystic’. It was in the second half of the 2000s that she embarked on projects that showcased novel stories rather than stories taken from mythology or religion as is common in classical Indian arts.
Her first production ‘Music Within’ which released in 2010, took the arts world by a quiet storm. Based on the history of music as narrated by a deaf and dumb child, the production went on to play across the globe and was much appreciated for its finesse, subtility and entertainment values. Savitha’s foray in this direction stemmed from the fact that she wanted to take Bharatanatyam to an audience that was neither conversant nor interested in the art form.
In the 2010s, Savitha and her husband AK Srikanth jointly created some of the most memorable works from her production company. Written and directed by Srikanth, and choreographed by Savitha, these productions including ‘Soul Cages’ (2012), ‘Yudh’ (2013), ‘The Prophet’ (2013) and ‘Chains: Love Stories of Shadows’ (2015) played over 100 shows in very prestigious venues across the Indian Subcontinent, the United States, Australia, the Middle East, South Africa and South East Asia. Her work got the attention of critics even to prompt them to declare that Savitha is as much ‘the renaissance architect of Bharatanatyam as Rukmini Devi Arundale was in her times’.
In the late 2010s, Savitha and Srikanth turned their eyes on the burgeoning digital media, and decided that if the aim was to evangelize Bharatanatyam to the uninitiated, then the power of digital could not be ignored. Between 2018 and 2019, her productions that had been made for stage were now recreated as dance films.
But her first original work for the digital media came about in 2019, when she performed in the short dance film ‘The Descent’. Based on a script by Srikanth, this production showcased the free fall of a superstar, and showcased the emotions of a depressed woman in this part of her life. ‘The Descent’ went on to win the best short film awards in the very prestigious Near Nazareth Festival, the Calcutta International Cult Film Festival, Best Global Shorts and the Top Shorts Film Festival, besides being nominated in 11 other film festivals.
Savitha and Srikanth have gone on to make other short films as well including ‘Awakening’ and ‘Aparajita’ – the latter being created during the lockdown. Their current project is the trilogy titled the Colors – a series based on the colors of the Indian flag, and a comparison of the women of today held against the ideals that the founding fathers of India had when they selected these colors on our flag. The first of the trilogy, Colors: Green was released to critical acclaim in 2020. Savitha is also extremely involved with a group she has created for dancers titled the Inner Circle – where she posts videos on choreography, productions and physical fitness for dancers.