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Leela Roy Ghosh: A Guardian Angel Dr Rohini Dandavate January 2013
Ms Leela Roy Ghosh in her Office, Sound and Vision India Leela Roy Ghosh(Leela di) was a multi talented person. An established singer, voice artist and copywriter, she was a graduate of Utkal University with a long training in the fields of music and dance. In Mumbai, during her stint in the Government of India Tourist Office, she gained a wide-‐ranging experience in the field of Indian Tourism and actively promoted India and its rich culture in other countries through her work. She was only 64 years old when passed away in Mumbai on Friday, May 11th, 2012, due to complications from a liver transplant surgery. . I met Leela di when I moved to Mumbai in 1979, to pursue further education and seek new professional opportunities. Life away from parents and home in a city like Mumbai was tough. As fate would have it, I happened to meet Prashant Nanda, a friend and famous actor who was then with Rajshri Pictures (P) Ltd. in Mumbai. He 2
graciously introduced me to Leela di, one of the kindest individual I have ever known. This meeting was a milestone in my career. Like a guardian angel she quickly took me under her fold. Author Rusty Berkus, in his book, To Heal Again wrote “ There comes that mysterious meeting in life when someone acknowledges who we are and what we can be, igniting the circuits of our highest potential.” Truly, my meeting with Leeladi was that special moment of my life. She was one of the few people, who recognized my ability and graciously reached out to help me connect with different kinds of professionals, find performance opportunities and harness new skills. No words can express her benevolence, love and bigheartedness. I was fortunate to have crossed paths with her and spent some crucial years of my life under her guidance and friendship.
Photo: 1980-‐ Leela Roy Ghosh, Iqbal(her colleague), Rohini Doshi in Govt. of India Tourist Office.
During the same time period as my move to Mumbai, Late Pundit Bhubaneshwar Misra, the renowned music composer had been posted to the All India Radio in Mumbai and Late Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra (Guruji), the legendary Guru in the field of Odissi dance had started offering Odissi dance workshops in Bhulabhai Desai Institute on the invitation of Shri Soli Batliwala and later still in the National Center for Performing Arts. Though Guruji had visited Mumbai earlier to offer personal lessons in Odissi dance to Dr Menaka Thakkar, Jaya Dheer, Minal Patel and a few others, the month long intensive Odissi workshops in Bhulabhai Institute and NCPA generated a deeper interest in many, attracting new students and celebrities to learn Odissi dance. In the same time span, Protima Bedi founded Odissi Dance Center, (now known as Nrityagram) in Mumbai, and classes were offered in Prithvi Theater and S.N.D.T. College and gradually Odissi dance was becoming a household name.
Photo: Performance in NCPA (1980) Ms Leela Roy Ghosh, Pundit Bhubaneshwar Mishra, Rohini Doshi.
Leela di’s experience in Odissi music became useful to Guruji and Bhubaneshwar Mishra while in Mumbai. She was invited to provide vocal support for Odissi performances organized at the culmination of the workshops. After her day’s work in the Tourist Office she would put in endless hours of rehearsals for the dance presentations. Even after the completion of the workshops, many Odissi dancers continued to receive her consistent and unconditional support for performances and in furthering their careers in dance, music and advertising in Mumbai. Leela di was one of the few individuals who persistently worked to promote and propagate Odissi dance and Odissi music in Mumbai and in the Tourism industry. Organizations like Vaitalik included Odissi dance presentations in their program schedules, beside other dance forms for tourists. Odissi performances were organized in the tourist office premises for special delegations from other countries. Screenings of a documentary on Orissa and its rich traditions of dance and music were included in the monthly events of the tourist office. She was posted to work in the Government of India Tourist Office in London for approximately four years. Even while in the London office she was instrumental in inviting many Odissi dancers, including me to perform in London and in its vicinity. On her return on completion of her stint in London, realizing the need and potential of dubbed content in India, she founded her company Sound and Vision India in 1993. Leela di made her mark in the voice over industry. She directed voice over projects for most Hollywood films released in India and received high acclaim for her work. Her expertise was in adapting dialogue and music to merge different cultures and languages seamlessly. Hollywood studios like Sony Pictures, Paramount Films and Disney invited her to speak on her experiences and the challenges she faced in dubbing projects while transcending cultures. Her contribution as a copywriter and voice artiste in the advertising industry for over 20 years is noteworthy. Among the many accolades and awards she received the most notable was the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, for her contribution in the dubbing industry. 5
The producer of epic films Titanic & Avatar -‐ John Landau with Leela Ghosh & Pradip Das of Sound & Vision India and his Oscar The last time I met her was a year before her death. She kindly offered her studio and staff to do an audio recording for a full day. Her generosity to help people in the industry and train new hands was remarkable. Amidst her most busy schedules she always made time to meet her friends and reach out in every possible way. Her untimely death has left a big void in the hearts of many who had the chance to know and work with her. Her sense of humor, positive attitude, everlasting energy and an indescribable will power enabled her to tide over the most difficult times of her life. She treaded the rocky paths and the turbulence in her life with the same smile and undying spirit and arose like a phoenix. The following tributes on face book page of her company, Sound and Vision India, best describes the inimitable Leeladi: “ The Queen who lived her life kingsize and was bestowed with the unique gift to make each living being she knew feel like a superstar. She's left us all with painful, broken hearts and a legacy of unconditional love which can never be replaced...I can 6
only endeavor to be one percent of the magical angel guardian that mashi was. Loved you the most my magnificient Bengali tigress...Sucharita Bose “Jab main Mumbai aayaa thaa, aur rozi kaa koi zariyaa nahin thaa, tab tumnay mujhay dubbing kaa kaam dekar sambhaalaa thaa. Leela Di, ab jo meri tarah iss shahar aayengay unko kaun sambhaalegaa? Love you”. Kamlesh Kunti Singh Leeladi, an inspiration and a pillar of support to many, left for her heavenly abode too soon. Wish we had many more years to experience her love, infectious laughter, melodious voice and unending zeal to live and keep going even in the darkest moments of life. May her soul rest in peace.
Rohini Doshi-‐Dandavate holds a doctoral degree in Cultural Policy and Arts Administration from the Ohio State University and presently resides in San Francisco, CA. She earned her graduate degree in Odissi dance from Kala Vikas Kendra, College of Indian Dance and Music, Cuttack, India. Her gurus are Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, Guru Raghunath Dutta, Guru Ramani Ranjan Jena, and Dr Menaka Thakkar. As an artist in the Arts in Education Program of the Ohio Arts Council, she has conducted workshops and lecture demonstrations in Odissi dance for students in schools and colleges in Ohio since 1994. She offers courses in Odissi dance in educational institutions and community organizations. Rohini’s research papers/articles are posted at www.scribd.com/rohinidandavate
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