Updated: Sep 9, 2020
Dr. Mandakranta Roy is a leading soloist in Bharatanatyam from Tripura and is trained in Hindustani classical music and Rabindra Sangeet. She is a Gold medalist in Botany at graduation level and later went on to complete her Ph.D. in the same subject. Roy is also a recipient of Sangeet Ratna title in Rabindra Nritya and is a silver medalist from Bangiya Parishad Board. Blessed to be a disciple of Padma Bhushan Prof. C. V. Chandrasekhar, Roy started her initial training at a very tender age from Guru Smt. Hira Dey at Kalatirtha, Agartala and later under Guru Dr. Thankamani Kutty, Kalamandalam Kolkata. She has also attended several workshops conducted by veteran gurus like Padmashri Leela Samson, Rama Vaidyanathan, Sri P. T. Narendran, Sri Khagendra Nath Barman, Dr. Vasant Kiran and Pandit Birju Maharaj.
An A+ graded empanelled artist of Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre and also awarded with Junior Research Fellowship in Bharatnatyam by CCRT, Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India, Roy has performed in several prestigious festivals including Horizon Series Festival by ICCR, Navodit Festival, Octave Festival and Sahitya Sabha Festival by EZCC, Marghazi Festival by Kuchipudi Art Academy, 25th Guru Pankaj Charan Utsav and has received several awards and titles. A regular performer at Doordarshan Kendra, Agartala, Roy is also associated with theatre and has performed in lead roles in many prestigious national and international theatre festivals including those organized by Sangeet Natak Academi and National School of Drama. She was twice nominated by ICA Dept. of Tripura for Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar in 2009 and 2010. In 2016, Roy was interviewed for her versatility on Multiple Aspects of a Woman in the program Good Evening India by DD National, New Delhi. Apart from being a Taxonomist, Mandakranta always had a keen inclination towards Indian classical art forms, culture and aesthetics.
To her, Bharatnatyam is more than a dance form; it is a way of life. Let's find out more about her thoughts.
1. Besides being into 2 separate fields, what are your priorities in life considering both to keep at good standing?
I belong from a family with an academic background, where honesty, dedication, hard work and most importantly humanity had always been prioritized. Therefore, the first and foremost priority in my life is to be an honest and a genuine human being in every aspect. The second priority would be the never-ending quest of knowledge. Being the ex-principal of Dharmanagar College as well as a renowned Taxonomist in Tripura, my father always had a dream that his daughter too would be a doctorate in Botany and carry forward the legacy of his expertise in Taxonomy one day. On the other hand, a senior retired school teacher in Sanskrit, my mother had always wanted her daughter to grow up embracing the purity of Indian Arts and Culture as well.
So, love for education and culture was already there in my blood. I was only 3 years old when I got introduced to the world of dance for the very first time by my mother who took me to my first Guru, Smt. Hira Dey. Later on as I grew up she also inspired me to learn Hindustani classical music and painting as well. So, the influence of my parents and the surrounding highly academic as well as the cultural atmosphere, in which I was brought up, perhaps might have triggered my subconscious mind right from childhood to gradually gain interest both in Botany as well as Bharatanatyam that later on went on to become my mains subjects for higher studies; thereby fulfilling my parent’s dream and parallelly my passion as well. From the entire phase of my academic life, I have realized one prime fact that student life is actually a never-ending phase as an entire single life is just not enough to absorb even a droplet from the vast ocean of knowledge. Experiences through knowledge lead us towards self-realization humanity, perfection and “Sambodhi”. Therefore, I wish to have the maximum capacity to get the best out of my lifespan. Life has actually so much yet to do and so little is done!
2. Whom do you consider as your best mate who really supports you in your artistic endeavors?
My mother is the first and the best mate in all my artistic endeavors. Of course, after my marriage, the cooperation and the full support of my husband too had been just beyond measure, but my art could bloom, breathe and flourish only because of the immense sacrifices and the unyielding support that my mother kept on constantly providing me from my childhood till date. In a true sense, she is my real hero, my best mate, philosopher and guide, not only in artistic endeavors, but in every aspect of my life.
3. What is your experience during this pandemic as a performing artiste?
The world seemed to have penetrated into a static dark state suddenly. Fear, anxiety, misery, starvation for bread and butter, the downfall of the economy, deaths all around; it feels so depressive at times! But life must go on since struggle for existence and survival of the fittest are the two truths of life on earth. Philosophy says that there is always a brightness awaited behind a dark phase. Therefore, it is through positivity, persistence and strong perseverance that will help us to definitely make out a way to fight back and overcome this situation.
4. What you think an artiste's social responsibilities could be?
To become an Artiste is always special and fortunate, I believe, as because it is the power of the Art of an artiste that has the tremendous capacity to transform an artiste from mundane to esoteric. To me, artistes in a true sense are the main backbones of the society whose psychological power of creativity or rather the Art is responsible for dedicatedly spreading the message of living a spiritually uplifted life through the skillful practices of love, compassion, joy, kindness, humanity and equanimity, therefore, in turn, contributing in the richness of national expression. The finest architecture, literature, sculpture, painting and music manifesting the deep Indian philosophy of Arts and Culture in the world, are the best proofs of the magnificent creation of artistes or their unparalleled contributions that had made India as heir to a profound civilization continuum of great antiquity and exemplifying the best unity within diversity.
5. Any big news waiting in regard to your dancing being a teacher and curator?
Advice for upcoming little artistes?
Well there is no as such big news in particular, but I would be happy to share my three recent attainments during this pandemic situation. They are:
(i) I have successfully completed and being able to submit my thesis of the Junior Research Fellowship awarded to me by CCRT, Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India.
(ii) I joined Indian Centre For Performing Arts (ICPA) as a teacher and
(iii) The Lasyakala Dance vision (founded by Sangeet Ratna Shri Saswat Joshi), in association with the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India, has decided to confer me with the 12th Aekalavya Samman - a tribute to Guru Sishya Parampara in their upcoming program once this pandemic situation is over.
My message to all the budding artistes would be, “Practice, dedication and honesty is the main mantra of getting transformed gradually into a true artiste. Do not run after name, fame and publicity as sudden sparks are unsustainable and temporary. Instead, give your life to Art and Art will embrace you forever”.