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Message in mudras

Subashini Leo Pillai is a person with varied interests. But it was Bharatanatyam that brought her to Kalakshetra from Australia


SUBASHINI LEO Pillai could pass off as a college-goer round the block. Well, it's just that her idea of a college is different. It means taking off at 8.30 in the morning to the sylvan setting of Kalakshetra and learning more about Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music. It means studying Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu. Yes, her medium of expression is mudras and abhinaya.

The part-Sri Lankan part-Malayalee Subashini has been training at Kalakshetra for four years to realise her dream... of spreading the message that the art form has no boundaries.

Subashini was born in Germany and bred in Melbourne, Australia. So how did she ever come into contact with this art? "As my mom is from Kerala, she put me through Mohiniattom classes when we were in Germany. I was about six then," says the doe-eyed dancer.

Shifting to Melbourne meant a temporary stop to her classes. Till, at 15, she got an opportunity to learn either Bharatanatyam or Odissi. "I preferred Bharatanatyam, which I felt was easier to understand and interpret." One led to another and soon she was packing her bags for Kalakshetra, much to the displeasure of her father. "Though my mom was supportive, my dad could never understand this move. It was war at home. I finally had my way," says Subashini, whose three brothers too initially "thought I had lost it!"

All the while, she was also working at getting a degree in bio-medicine. She even did a short stint in a hospital. But dance was her destiny.

Coming to Chennai opened new doors to her. Sharing a room with Russian, Sri Lankan and Madurai girls has been an "uplifting experience. I have learnt so much about their cultures." Learning new pieces from Adyar Lakshman, before Kalakshetra happened, was yet another important phase. "I also polished my Tamil by talking to mami (Lakshman's wife)," says the youngster.

Then she got a chance to sing for a Tamil pop album and a Punjabi song. She also hopes to make a career in playback. What's more, she's got acting offers. But acting is a definite no no. "I don't think I can be an actress," says the Shankar Mahadevan fan, who is planning her arangetram in April end.

As for the future, she wants to do many things — dance, choreograph, sing and complete her PG in bio-medicine. Which path will she choose? She says with an air of wisdom, "Everything depends on fate."

SAVITHA GAUTAM

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