Dance legend Anita Ratnam returns to open the PHF, along with greats Sharmila Biswas and Geeta Chandran. This new collaborative piece, AH SU RA, tells the stories of three less-explored, “darker” characters from the Ramayana.  Ms. Ratnam will perform Ahalya in a contemporary dance style; Ms. Biswas will interpret Surpanakha through Odissi; and Ms. Chandran will use Bharatanatyam to convey Ravana.

About the AhSuRa Dancers

Geeta Chandran

… is a Padmashri awardee, dancer and choreographer.  She began her Bharatanatyam training from age 5 under the tutelage of Smt. SwarnaSaraswaty, who hailed from the traditional Tanjavoordevadasiparampara. She continued leasering diverse aspects of this classical dance from a galaxy of eminent Gurus.

She is not only has a deep and composite understanding of the art of Bharatanatyam but is also a trained and accomplished Carnatic vocalist, and has worked in television, film, theatre, choreography, dance education and dance activism.

She is the founder-President and artistic director of Natya-Vriksha, an organisation devoted to promoting Bharatanatyam and has trained many disciples and students who have gone on to become full-fledged performers themselves.


Sharmila Biswas

… started learning not just dance but various aspects of the performing arts, including theatre, lighting, from a very young age. When she was 19 she know she had to go and be a part of her Odissi dance teacher, the great Kelucharan Mohapatra’s gurukul. In 2012 she received the Sangeet Natak Academy Award and has been dancing and choreographing and participating in and performing in various performing arts festivals within and outside of India. In 2009 she started Poorva Dhara, an annual festival of dance of East and North East India


Anita Ratnam

… has a storied career spanning 4 decades.  With over 1500 performances in 27 countries, she  is one of India’s most recognized dance icons. Dancer. Choreographer, transcultural collaborator, arts presenter, scholar, writer and cultural activist, Anita says: “I’m in dance because this is my own way of connecting with myself and the world.” While all her ideas and her training are from traditional sources, she considers herself a contemporary classicist. Trained in Bharatanatyam, she as also received formal training in Kathakali, Moiniattam, T’ai chi and Kalarippayattu all of which make her dance style a unique integration of these classical forms. She’s a founder-director of Arangham Trust and in 200 she created www.narthaki.com, an Indian dance portal.

She enjoys close ties to Pondicherry has been a part of every Pondicherry Heritage Festival since  2016.