One has to be innovative and stay grounded during lock down times and beat the stress of being confined to homes. In this direction, compliments to mother-daughter duo of Revathi and Sahitya Ramkumar, who are posting videos on YouTube and garnering immense love and support of the netizens. Natyahasini spoke to mother Revathi and daughter Sahitya to explore about the dance videos.
“My mother has always been interested in dance since her childhood, but she did not get an opportunity to learn when she was younger. When I was about seven to eight years old, she would teach small Bollywood songs to my friends and me and we would perform at small get-togethers,” says Sahitya, a trained Bharatanatyam dancer. She says that this went on along with her Bharatanatyam classes. “When mom was 39 years old, she decided to start learning Kuchipudi under my guru itself. After a couple of years, both of us started going to class together,” shares Sahitya.
The Bharatanatyam dancer confesses that as she started growing older, the mother-daughter saw the possibility of being able to share clothes. “Long before YouTube happened also, we would dress in similar clothes. Not the exact same ones as we do for videos, just similar,” she says.
Unravelling the mystery on what came first, the Chartered Accountant student says that before putting up anything on YouTube, they had recorded just one video with the same clothes that someone had gifted them and realised it was working out interestingly. “My mom has terrible stage fear. We had a little performance for the song “Butta Bomma” for Women’s Day 2020, exactly when the world went into lock down. We wanted a platform and thus ended up on YouTube. We even received a message from music director S Thaman for that video. It was big high for us and we were thrilled,” says Sahitya. After receiving huge applause, Sahitya says that they are putting up one video almost every month.
Speaking about her mother’s stage fears, Sahitya decided against live audience on YouTube. “This was comforting to both of us,” Revathi and Sahitya say in unison. “Both of us stood with lot of excitement and bit of fear. We had no idea what comments we were going to receive. Mom was more confident after receiving many lovely encouraging comments from women of her age,” Sahitya says.
Special to dance with daughter: Revathi states that she is very happy about dancing with her daughter. “It’s special to be able to dance with my daughter. Not all moms, especially moms of 21-year-olds get these fun opportunities and experiences,” she says. Sahitya reveals that since her childhood, her mom has only acted like she was her age. “I have had friends call my mom ‘cool’. And I can’t agree more. We paint, chat, sing, play and do a lot of other things together. Dancing is the most fun activity we do together,” says the Bharatanatyam dancer.
Sahitya further adds that they have a great time working together – laughing joking and sweating it out. “All the retakes, costumes selection, choreography and most importantly video bloopers make each video very memorable,” she says.
On their journey of YouTube videos, and the first one, Sahitya says: “Our first YouTube was shot with no plan. So now we see the bad lighting, background and other problems. But now with each video, we learn more and more. We don’t have help so we handle the camera, editing, costumes etc ourselves. It’s a fun evening, long process, we have on shoot days,” says the CA student. On identical dresses, “We have people say how funny it must be to have two same dresses in the house. But that makes us look absolutely alike and that’s what we enjoy. Some songs, the costumes inspire the movement. Few we have the choreography and we hunt for a costume for days together. We even have little arguments as it is difficult to have the same dress suit two different people. But now it is ritual for us… all dresses we see are potential costumes and all songs we hear may need costume in future,” say Revathi and Sahitya. The duo has recorded about 15 songs so far.
Youtube Home: https://youtube.com/channel/UCPC8MMqPTcAVWn02ljd9Lag
How it works: Sahitya says that she posts Bharatanatyam videos, when she has an idea. “It takes a long time for me to freeze such a video and actually post it. But for duo videos, we consistently search for songs and movements. Some work some don’t. We wait for the practice to give both of us complete happy adrenaline rush. And when both feel the energy, we decide to record. We haven’t posted many songs we have choreographed. Sometimes the block of ideas continues for a long time…sometimes it’s frustrating even…we take a break and try again. Few songs we have gotten ideas and recorded within a day and others don’t click so quickly. In fact, we ourselves don’t like some songs we have posted. Some we record and convince ourselves to post after many months with many other posts in the middle,” the mother-daughter say.
The dancers state that both of them have happy experiences and still counting. “We would like to put out a word of encouragement …the younger generation should give moms the space and chance to try and have fun, instead of telling them it’s not meant to be…and interested moms can dive right in into whatever makes them happy. If we can do it, anybody can,” say Revathi and Sahitya.
They confess that they do not have big audience base. “But our audience has been very kind to us…giving us all love and support through their lovely comments from the very beginning. Many thanks and much love to them. We are hoping we dance together forever with the same zeal,” say the duo before signing off.