Purva Mani is a lady dedicated to classical dance, in life and in teaching. Untouched by age and cynicism, Purva Mani has taught multiple generations of students now at the reputed Shobhaniya Kala Kendra. She calls it a family of hundreds, joined by a love towards the beautiful art of dance. She is also an active performer with houseful shows, and dances to both classical and fusion styles.
Host Rachita Gupta interviews Purva Mani, an established woman of her own making, and delves into her journey towards success and win-ship.
What would you say has been your greatest achievement?
Oh, the love I have gathered from this city. It is in my name- it is my students who named me Mani- a sweet combination of Mam+ Nani! It is above any trophy, any award.
When I performed my silver-jubilee show Shukrana, it was dedicated to Ludhiana, the way this city has embraced me in its arms.
What do you describe as a low point in your career?
(Purva grows serious) My low points converted themselves into very good times, you know. When I met with an accident, the pain would not go away and I was on crutches. I later found out that the doctor had stitched the veins of my toes together. It had to be undone, ofcourse- a process that was even more painful, and had to be repeated every day. But for all those days, my daughters stepped up. The elder one took care of the academy, while the younger one took care of me. It may have been a low time as a dancer, but as a mother, I was proud and happy.
What has been the greatest challenge in building dance as a career?
The society’s attitude towards it. The first objection comes in the form of, ‘No one would marry her’. You become a professional only after years of riyaaz and dedication, and people don’t understand the value for your skill. Even in education! Dance teachers are not given their due, even when they put in 4 long years as a Head of Department.
How do you define success?
Success…has changed its meaning for me. It once used to be the big, golden trophy in a competition. Today, it is the countless messages from students I’ve taught, with a love for dancing, even as they move to different careers now. A student, now a Delhi architect, insisted to design the invites to my stage performance! No matter where they are- my students’ belongingness to dancing, and to their Mani, has stayed… what more can I ask for?
“One thing people don’t understand is how dance requires such sharp intelligence! You think while you perform- you cannot break the routine. In dance, one missed beat is a moment too late.” So does Purva Mani emphasise that dance is not just an art, but a subject of knowledge no less than any science or math in schools.
What are your big plans for the future?
I’m in love with this city. Prachin Kala Kendra is a huge organization with offices all over the world, and they have repeatedly asked me to pick any place I wish to go, but I can’t leave Ludhiana and my hundred little children here. I’ve got good plans for Shobhaniya Kala Kendra, though! (Laughs)
If I do ever leave this city, I’ll go build a sweet shack on the beaches of Goa, or a warm little café, somewhere in the quiet hills.
What would you call your life essentials?
My daughters, they’ve stood by me through some very tough times. In becoming two strong, independent women themselves, they make me proud and happy every day. But the essential principle is to live with No Regrets. I don’t wish to live in a way that the future makes me say- ‘I wish I had done things like that, instead’. That motto keeps me going.
What would you say to the young girls of India?
Be self-sufficient. To everyone who doubts, get up and prove your worth. Be focused and hardworking- you don’t need to have big dreams about changing the world. Whatever you do, give your best in it. (She winks at me) Chaahe sabzi kyun na banaani ho, namak-mirch badhiyaa daalo!
Vision of Smart City Ludhiana–
A smarter attitude towards our own responsibilities to Ludhiana. Stop blaming the authorities for not fixing things, when you’re not doing your own bit. Take care to park your car well. Don’t throw garbage on the streets. Be kinder to people around you.
A city becomes smart not by infrastructure, but by its people.