This dance presentation by Anita Ratnam, premiered in September 1999 at Natyarangam's dance
festival, "Bharatam Samanvayam". The thematic dance presentation explored and highlighted the
richness, the versatility and the oneness of all faiths - Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism or
Christianity, by noted artistes Vyjayantimala Bali, Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala, C.V.Chandrasekhar
and Father Francis Barboza among others.
The word "Tarkaash" came from a poem by a contemporary Indian poet and dancer, Anu
Mazumdar, of Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India. The bow and arrow has a universal appeal, representing
the pristine nature of soul search with its purity of direction, just like the principles of Islam.
Choreographic ideas were put together from the movement motif of the devout at prayer, the
reading of the Koran, the spiralling turn of the dervish, the Haj pilgrimages, the mystical trances of
the Sufis, images from Morocco and Turkey, conversations with American Muslims and the
perceptions of Eastern Europe immigrants, to piece together the huge disparity and also the
commonality of the 5 Pillars that they revere. The 5 Pillars uphold Allah as the only God, the
importance of praying five times a day and fasting for thirty days during the month of Ramadan,
the need to give "zakat" (charity) and the importance of the pilgrimage to Haj.
Dr Abdul Rahman, a progressive scholar, writer and poet at Chennai (Madras), provided vital and
positive inputs for the work. He has studied comparative religion between Islam and Hinduism and
encouraged the bold portrayals that form the texture of "Tarkaash". One of his compositions "Ara
Murasu" (The Right Path), also forms the centerpiece of the programme.
The music for the various segments is a mixture of world melodies from Senegal, Turkey, Morocco,
Japan, U.K. and India, as well as the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's hypnotic voice. O.S.Arun a
talented and upcoming artist who has collaborated with many of Anita Ratnam's productions in the
past, has selected and arranged the scores.
The programme captures the uniqueness and unifying nature of a people's faith. The image of the
quiver reflects the boundless energy within mankind, which hurtles out in a hundred different
directions, targeting innumerable challenges at the physical, material or spiritual levels. Dynamic
energy that dissipates itself in the desperate hope that the quiver never falls empty or that the
final arrow at least nears the mark.