Title: Upaj: Improvise
Director: Hoku Uchiyama
Producer: Antara Bhardwaj
Show date: Monday, January 20, 2014 premiering on the PBS WORLD Channel
Time: 7pm (ET/PT)
Upaj: Improvise is a documentary that follows two dance masters, Indian Kathak guru Pandit Chitresh Das, and African-American tap star, Jason Samuels Smith, as they join forces for an extraordinary artistic collaboration. After receiving critical acclaim on the film festival circuit, Upaj: Improvise was chosen to be part of AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange, the innovative documentary series bringing moving stories of contemporary life across the African Diaspora to public television audiences, which will be premiering on the PBS WORLD Channel.
”Upaj” means “improvise” in the Hindi language and this film explores the birth and journey of “India Jazz Suites,” a phenomenal East-meets-West collaboration featuring Indian Kathak master and guru Pandit Chitresh Das and tap star Jason Samuels Smith. Das is a 62-year-old artist who exemplifies the elegance and mathematical precision of Kathak, classical, storytelling dance of North India. Jason is a 28-year-old African-American tap dancer hailing from the freestyle, streetwise American tradition of contemporary tap. As the two join forces, an unlikely friendship develops that bridges continents, generations, cultures and communities. Soon Das’s and Smith’s poignant personal stories unfold—stories wrought with loss, struggle and perseverance. As the two artists tell their truths and come to terms with their demons, they show us that our struggles are worthwhile, and Upaj: Improvise paves the way for hope and redemption.