Chandalika, a Tagore dance drama revolves around the heroine of the play. The protagonist, Prakriti, is a girl who belongs to the untouchable class. She falls in love with a Buddhist bhikshu, Ananda, who makes her aware of herself. Prakriti gets her spiritual comfort. This journey of an untouchable girl from self-ignorance to self-knowledge is shown in Chandalika. Based on a Buddhist tale, Tagore's Chandalika, since it was first staged in 1938 is relevant even to this date. Its unique message and original storyline have contributed to it being staged over generations, though this relevance, conversely, draws attention to an unfortunate truth – the loss of humanity in the face of fierce division and uncharted pain.


Chandalika attempts to hold on to the convention of the Tagorean dance drama, a tradition that is fast fading. The final interpretation aims to portray this story not just as a criticism of untouchability, but of poetry celebrating freedom. This 'freedom' is twofold. In the beginning, Prakriti attains freedom though the words of Ananda – she discovers her identity and thereby celebrates her liberty. However, instead of basking in her new-found liberty, she slips into another state of servitude – this time she is trapped by 'love'. As her desires turn her restless, she selfishly craves and yearns till she achieves her passion. It is right at the very end that she finally meets her supreme realisation – that love cannot be owned. When forced, love turns unpleasant, obnoxious, and ugly- the violent manifestation of which is marked on Ananda's face when he is forced to come to Prakriti. Prakriti decisively learns to let go in love and pleads forgiveness. That is when she recognises what it is to be genuinely 'free' . Freedom is, after all, a state of mind – a mind that does not possess, craves or is jealous. It is a mind that can forgive and love and yet desires nothing in return. Chandalika is a tale about freedom of mind, and the production aims to celebrate Prakriti's journey towards attaining that ultimate freedom.


Chandalika is a joint venture between two artists Souraja Tagore and Manoj Murali Nair, hailing from distinctly different musical and artistic backgrounds who found common ground in their love for Tagore, his music, vision, and philosophy.


Souraja Tagore is a classical Bharatanatyam dancer having over 20 years of professional performance experience. Through her discipleship and years of rigorous training under her Guru, Shri Abhoy Pal, Souraja has mastered the nuances and subtleties of artistic expression along with the crucially demanding necessities of creative and intuitive movement in Bharatanatyam performance practice. She is a graded and empaneled artist under Doordarshan, Sangeet Natak Academi, EZCC, and ICCR; and has presented her art in numerous solo and collaborative performance projects in India, Europe, and southeast Asia.

For several years, Souraja studied the works of her illustrious ancestor, Rabindranath Tagore, as part of her doctoral research dissertation. Immensely moved by his writings on literature, thought, and the artistic traditions of India, she has aimed to integrate Tagore’s unique approach to dance within her own training in a classical repertoire, thus reimagining Tagore dance (Rabindra Nritya) for a contemporary audience. Her recent productions include Infinite in the Finite (2016); Chitrangada (2017), where she played the parts of both Surupa and Kurupa; and Tagore through Dance (2018) for the Sundaram Art Gallery, New York. She is also credited with publishing several academic research papers on Bharatanatyam, Tagore dance, and other artistic and aesthetic traditions of India.


Manoj Murali Nair is a celebrated vocalist and a leading exponent of Rabindra Sangeet in Kolkata. Originally from Kerala, he moved to Santiniketan at the age of seven, after his father, Guru Kalamandalam Murali Nair, was invited to teach Kathakali at Sangeeta Bhavana, at Viswa Bharati University, Shantiniketan. He is an MA (Mus.) from Sangeeta Bhavana in Hindustani classical music. Hindustani classical and Carnatic musical traditions inform his renditions of Rabindra Sangeet. Having revived many forgotten Tagore songs based on established traditions such as the Dhrupad, Manoj Murali also experiments with various instrumental and stylistic repertoires and has evolved a distinct framework for presenting Tagore songs to audiences in India and abroad. He is also the director of Dakghar, an institution dedicated to training emerging talent in Rabindra Sangeet.



Souraja Tagore (Dance -Prakriti)

Manoj Murali Nair (Vocal-Ananda)

Manisha Murali Nair (Vocal-Prakriti)

Bidisha Das (Dance-Maya)

Bhumika Gangopadhyay (Vocal-Maya)

Pandit Biplab Mondal (Tabla and Percussions)

Arnab Chatterjee (Keyboards)


55 minutes


Bengali with English Subtitles (only for Non-Bengali audience)


Dance Drama


Kanishka Sen


University students/ Art Lovers and critics/ Foreign diplomats and delegates / Bengali and Non-Bengali speaking audience



13th March 2020


20th March -2020


Prakriti and Ananda
Manisha Murali Nair as Prakriti (Vocal)
Manoj Murali Nair as Ananda
Bidisha Das- Maya
Manoj and Manisha - Ananda and Prakriti
Souraja as Prakriti
Ananda and Prakriti
From Chandalika
Souraja as Prakriti

Prakriti and Maya
Manoj Murali as Ananda
Prikriti and Ananda