Dance, Darling, Dance

Script Synopsis

The sound of helicopter. The screen shows a vast snowy mountain terrain after an avalanche. A rescue camp. People running helter-skelter. A senior official reading out names. He stops at , “ Urvashi Khanna”.  A lady  assistant, Mridula, a young girl in mid twenties, informs that there is no trace of her body, but a diary has been found. Late at night, we find the assistant reading the diary with  a battery-powered lamp by her side inside a tent. “ To Leon”, the first page of the  diary says. The second  page has these lines:  “ Leone, when I told you,  you were the last chapter of my life you wanted to hear the whole story. I was about to tell you, but, my naughty boy, you had other things on your mind.  But in these mountains , without you to disturb me, I have put it all down . From the start. Well, almost from the start..”

CUT: To Bombay in the 70’s . A disco with Pallavi Agarwal in command. 70’s disco music blaring.  A handsome hunk walks in. Pallavi invites him to the dance floor. She does a sexy grind, he keeps pace. Everyone can see they are hitting it off. Closing time. She takes his phone number. His name is Sandeep Khanna, an aspiring model and theater actor. She drives home. Her mother is waiting for her. Mother screams,” a condom  ad? A girl from the Agarwal family, and condom ad? And look at the pose!” There is a big scene. She calls  Sandeep., “ Are you home. I am coming” She picks up a few clothes and stuff. Lands up at Sandeep’s place. “ Let’s continue from where we left off”., she says. They make love. She moves in to his place permanently. They have wild parties with friends , including Mansoor and Priya.  Sandeep’s career takers off. She wants to get married. But he asks : why? We are fine as we are. She insisats. They marry at the Osho Ashram in Pune. Then one night, she discovers Sandeep in the arms of the rising starlet, Priya. She walks out. Moves in with her friend from Odisha, Kumkum.

She goes  an Odissi dance performance with Kumum. Is mesmerized. Wants to learn the dance. Are you crazy? Kumkum exclaims. You are 25. People start learning dance at 5. But she is determined. Kumkum gives the guru’s address. CUT. Pallavi at the doorsteps of Guru Gopal Chandra in Bhubaneswar. She proclaims her love for Odissi dramatically to the guru. It is winter. The guru asks her to take a cold bath and light the diya in front of Lord Jagannath. She does. The guru accepts her as the disciple. Days of hardship. Alien culture. Small town people ogling her. But she persists and slowly earns people’s acceptance. Inaugural performance in Mumbai. She is given a new name by Guruji: Urvashi.  Sandeep, now an actor, in the audience. He is moved by the performance. He meets her backstage, apologizes for past conduct and says he will do anything to make it up. She says she will let him know when the time comes.

A few days later  she gets a phone call informing that Guruji is seriously ill. She rushes back. Guruji dies. She vows to build d a Gurukul to let his good work spread across the world. He approaches the culture minister for a piece of land. HE asks, “Why should I help you, unless you help me? The elections are due in 3 months. Will you campaign with me? She travels with him all over the state, dancing before his speeches.  He wins, becomes Chief Minster, one of the youngest ever. . Grants her the land. She builds a wonderful dance school. She comes close to the minister, who is also a wonderful singer of Odissi songs. They become lovers.  But just on the eve the annual dance festival. she catches him with another much younger dancer. She is heartbroken. She cancels her own performance, but lets the festival go on. She stops dancing altogether after this.

There was a young Italian boy, Leone,  who has been trying to learn Odissi at the school. He tries to persuade her to dance again. But she refuses. She starts drinking again, which she had given up after meeting Guruji. There is negative talk about the dance school al around. The Chief Minister calls her, She gives him a piece of her mind. Comes back to her room and breaks down. He has been secret admirer of her. He says, Come to Europe with me. She entrusts the running of the dance school to her assistant and sets of with Leone. Montage shots of happy times of Leone and Urvashi together. “ “ The same line : “ You say I am the final chapter of your life. So be it. But I would like to hear the full story”.

Mridula stops reading the diary. Goes to the camp phone starts dialing.  CUT. Leone arrives . Looks at the diary.. Mridula tells him they are all leaving tomorrow. To which place should his ticket be booked. To Bhubaneswar he answers. One ticket to Bhubaneswar, I will sms you the details. “ Not one, two, one for a 5 year old baby. , “ Leone interjects.   Lila, a pretty girl of 5, walks in from behind the screen in the tent. “ I cannot be a god Odiss dancer, but Lisa can, if she starts from now. And I have got this grant to do research on Odissi.” Leone adds. We see Leone and Lisa taking a look at the avalanche site as Leone tells about the relationship between him and Urvashi and how Lisa was born. And how she had told him, after Lisa was born,  she wanted nothing more from life.

CUT. Gurukool in Bhubaneswar . Little Lila learning the first few mudras of Odissi. as an admiring Leone watches. The shadow on the wall is that of Urvashi. Her voice in the soundtrack. “ Dance, darling, dance. For it’s only when we dance that  we live.’

The liners on the screen: AND URVASHI DANCED ON…. LIVED ON…

CINEMATIC HIGHLIGHTS

  • The dramatic opening scene with snow and avalanche
  • Recreation of a disco in 70’s Mumbai
  • Some steamy  scenes of intense passion between Urvashi and Sandeep
  • Visually stunning picturization of Odissi performances , with lilting  songs from  Jayadeva’s Gitagovinda , tuned with modern orchestral arrangement
  • Montage scenes of setting up of the Dance Gurukul. Interesting scenes of dance practice with an expressive guru.
  • Picture perfect scenes of romance between Lyon and Urvashi in Italy
  • The final  visual poetry of  little Lila dancing the first steps of Odissi with the shadow of Urvashi on the wall.

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