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Born to a mother whose name means ‘art’, Namrata Pambavasan emulates the word through her dynamic dance, expressive eyes and vibrant voice.
The gracious girl has outdone herself as she whisked away the 2014 Kalaratna also known as the ‘jewel of artistic talent’ title at the Indian School Bahrain Youth Festival.
The 16-year-old Grade 11 biomedical student at the Indian School has awed audiences for the majority of her life and her family couldn’t be prouder. Her mother and father, Kala, 40, and Pambavasan, 45, both work as business executives for Amad Baeed Ltd. Her younger brother Vighnesh, 12, also looks up to her as a role model.
Winning such a prestigious award was no easy task. Not only was she competing against 7,500 students, but she had to score the highest number of points in eight categories for the sought-after title. Namrata won first place in Bharatanatyam, Mono Act, Hindi Poem and Flower Arrangement. She also claimed third prize in Hindi Light Music and received an A Grade in English Poem and English Light Music.
“It felt amazing to win and it was filled with suspense. We didn’t know what was going on because we were in school and they just told me that I was getting some sort of position. I was just sitting in the audience and then they called out my name,” said Namrata.
Her first grade teacher realised that Namrata was a talented tot and expressed that to her parents. Since then, she reigned as the Group Champion from first to eighth grade in the school youth festival. She claimed the Kalaratna title in 2010 as well.
Kala, Namrata’s mother, is one of her biggest inspirations and knows just how hard the young girl has had to work, since she has also performed and is trained in classical dance. She said: “It is a very coveted title where you have to win most of the categories and accumulate the maximum points. She got 54 points from the eight events. It’s very difficult to reach this level. Once OK, but twice, especially as a Grade 11 biomed student … it took some time to register!”
Namrata’s mother was her first guru and honed many of her talents. Classical dance was taught by her and accompanied by the direction of commended dance teachers of Bahrain such as Kalamandalam Girija Menon and Sasi Menon for many years. In particular, she learned Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Mohiniyattam.
Although all three dances are considered to be part of the classical variety, each dance is from a different region of India and focuses on different motions and presentation.
“Bharatanatyam is from Tamil Nadu and you have to be a bit stiff, whereas in Mohiniyattam, you have to be a little more graceful, and Kuchipudi is a combination of graceful and stiff movements and you have to dance with a pot and a plate.
“There are also differences in the costumes. In Mohiniyattam, you only wear white and gold. Bharatanatyam costumes are very colourful, but the pants and fan are different,” described Namrata.
The graceful dancer is also trained in Carnatic music, which is a system of music and divine art form that is associated with the southern part of the Indian Subcontinent, and has had the pleasure of working with distinguished instructors Khalabavan Rajaram, Baby Varghese and Amblikuttan.
She is also talented in the art of arranging flowers. In the Flower Arrangement category, she was allotted 45 minutes to create a beautiful bouquet based on a theme chosen by the contestant. Namrata presented her flower arrangement as a tribute to Nirbhaya and the Delhi rape case.
Namrata is as studious and strong as she is spirited. Her father mentioned how she managed to overcome obstacles and succeed when she injured her calf during dance training and still managed to perform and study for exams throughout the night after four doses of painkillers and a full day of activities. “I am very proud of her. Sometimes I feel like it is too much,” he said.
Organisation and preparation are key factors for Namrata. She knows her plan of attack and puts 100 per cent into everything she does.
“Time management and effective planning are important. With elocutions, maths, chemistry and physics, it’s really hard being in Grade 11. It’s hard to manage academics and cultural events, but dance makes me feel really good. Nobody’s forcing me to dance. I get really involved in it and I love interacting with the audience too,” she said.
She has also collected many other awards in Bahrain. In 2004, her dance group Ila Shaan Se (dance mania), which featured children below the age of 16, won the top spot. The following year, six-year-old Namrata sealed first prize at the grand finale on a reality TV show over the course of 12 episodes. That same year, she also won a prize at the Sony TV Telelife Boogie Woogie competition against 105 participants and was crowned Best Performer of Asianet Bahrain Sola footloose, as well as the winner of Indian Club Talent Time. She was also the Group Champion in Bahrain Keraleeya Samajam’s Balakalotsavam in 2008 and 2013.
When Namrata isn’t knee-deep in her studies or practising her fancy footwork, she enjoys listening to the sounds of her favourite singers, Shreya Ghoshal and Sonu Nigham, and spending time with her family and friends.
For the future, the diligent student and delightful dancer has dreams of helping those with cancer and plans on becoming an oncologist.