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Indian classical dance is a misnomer, and actually refers to Natya, the sacred Hindu musical theatre styles. Its theory can be traced back to the Natya Shastra of Bharata Muni (400 BC).

* Dances performed inside the sanctum of the temple according to the rituals were called Agama Nartanam. This was a spiritual dance form.

* Dances performed in royal courts to the accompaniment of classical music were called Carnatakam. This was an intellectual art form.

* Darbari Aatam form of dance appealed more to the commoners and it educated them about their religion, culture and social life. These dances were performed outside the temple precincts in the courtyards.

The Sangeet Natak Akademi currently confers classical status on eight "dance" forms:[citation needed]

1. Bharatanatyam
2. Kathak
3. Kathakali
4. Kuchipudi
5. Manipuri
6. Mohiniaattam
7. Odissi
8. Sattriya

For lack of any equivalents in the European culture, the British colonial authorities called any performing art forms found in India as "Indian dance". Even though the art of Natya includes nritta, or dance proper, Natya has never been limited to dancing alone. At its best, has the most powerful means to lead its worshippers – the artist – to the Divine. It is a sincere depiction of the Divine. It is a sincere depiction of the realities in life, an embodiment of the imagination and gracefulness, the very soul which thereby creates as it were the "Idol of the Beautiful".

Out of the 8 styles, the most ancient ones and the ones that have their origin in Agama Nartanam are Bharatanatyam and Odissi. These two most faithfully adhere to the Natya Shastra.

Kuchipudi and Mohiniaattam are relatively recent Darbari Aatam forms, just as Kathakali, and two eastern Indian styles, Manipuri and Sattriya, that are quite similar. Kathak bears a strong influence of the Persian dance.

A very important feature of Indian classical dances is the use of Mudras or hand gestures. Mudras are used by the artists to express their feeling or even the whole story.

Courtesy: Wikipedia:
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In the classics, directors not only exploited the talents of great actresses like Madhubala (Mughal-e-Azam), Meena Kumari (Pakeezah), Hema Malini (Razia Sultan) but used their classical awareness potently to awaken interest in the art and make Indians conscious of the vast and enviable heritage of Kathak. They were instrumental in giving a new dimension to this dance form simple natural "Abhinaya" on celluloid is always conductive to the film form.


The versatility of an artiste like Rekha whose 'tawaif' in Muqaddar Ka Sikandar or Suhaag could give us moments directed for the sole purpose of giving pleasure to the general audience. But her role in Umrao Jaan brought to life the heart rending powerful, sensual sentiments of the theme and won her the National Award. The film showed that dance is a divine form of beauty, society has relegated its votaries and practitioners to the lowest place in its hierarchy. This aspect of the dancer's life was worse in the case of Kathak which emerged from the temple like other classical dance forms but flourished under the patronage of the Mughal court.



Dil Cheez Kya Hai - Umrao Jaan


dil chiiz kya hai aap mere jaan liije
What's a heart, after all? Take my very life!
bas ek baar mera kahaa...maan liiji'e
But just once, heed what I say.
dil chiiz kya hai aap merii jaan liiji'e
What's a heart, anyway? Take my life!

is anjuman mein aapko...aana hai baar baar
You must come, time and again, to this assembly
diiwaar-o-dar ko gaur se... pahachaan liiji'e
Learn to recognize every inch of the establishment.

dil chiiz kya hai aap merii jaan liiji'e
What's a heart, after all? Take my life!

maana ki dostoon ko nahiin
I accept that friends don't...
dostoon dostoon ko nahiin
that friends don't...
maana ki dosto.n ko nahii.n dostii ka paas
I accept that friends don't keep watch over friends;
lekin yeh kya ki gair ka...ehasaan liiji'e
but does that mean you will accept this favor from a stranger?

dil chiiz kya hai aap merii jaan liiji'e
What's a heart, after all? Take my life!

kahi'e to...aamaan ko
If you tell me to...
kahi'e to aasmaan ko zamiin par utaar laa'ein
if you tell me to, then I shall draw the sky down to the earth.
mushkil nahiin hai kuchh bhii
Nothing at all is difficult;
mushkil nahiin hai kuchh bhii agar THaan liiji'e
nothing is difficult if you put your mind to it.

dil chiiz kya hai aap merii jaan liiji'e
What's a heart, after all? Take my life!
bas ek baar...
Just for once...
bas ek baar mera kahaa maan liiji'e
Just once, heed what I say.
maan liiji'e...
Accept it...