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We enter the ancient world of Central India to discover the origins of one of its most revered rivers, the river Narmada.


According to legend, Narmada was created by the sweat of Shiva's deep meditation to end a long drought and famine.


This performance is based on Read and Colour River Stories, The Story of Narmada by Priya Krishnan, illustrated by Uma Krishnaswamy, and published by Tulika. It has been adapted with original music and illustration for The Red Curtain Project.


Thresh and the Red Curtain Project is proud to partner with Tulika, an independent, multilingual publisher of children's books that pioneered a fresh wave in Indian publishing when it was founded in 1996 (winner of the 2019 London Book Fair Award for Excellence in Literary Translation Initiative). 

Storyteller's toolkit (Narmada)


In the video above you see Preeti use a mixed bag of facial expressions and hand gestures ("mudras").

Now let's break this down: you'll find a series of short video clips below, in which Preeti demonstrates each gesture and the facial expressions she's chosen to use.


For each one, she includes the name in Sanskrit (the classical language of India) and some further examples and applications.

"Mudras" (hand gestures) & body positions

First we'll look at hand gestures and body positions.


Every culture uses its hands for expression. Preeti grew up learning Indian classical dance (bharatanatyam) in South India where gestures are classified in minute detail. Each gesture has specific meanings and applications. And lower body positions are...

Be sure to scroll / swipe through all the videos (there are three in total).


Facial expressions & Emotion

In Indian dance and theatre, the face is a key tool for communicating emotion—Indian dancers and actors train for years to perfect their control of their facial muscles!


There are many techniques to isolate the movements of the face, which are classified as "bheda" (BAY-dah). Indian classical performer uses these in combination to create an emotional mood under what is called "saatvika abhinaya" (SAAT-vika ab-in-EYE-a).


In particular, watch these short demo videos to see how Preeti manipulates different aspects of facial expression (eyes, lips, eyebrows etc.) to create the emotional effect.

Be sure to look at all the videos (there are four in total).

C & A (Narmada)


Preeti breaks down the performance

There's a lot going on in Indian classical dance, even in a short sequence such as this. In the video below Preeti talks you through how she's using the classical gestural vocabulary to tell the story.

Ask Preeti

As you've seen by now, our stories use a lot of hand gestures and facial expressions. Some of them can look quite similar. 

As we do with every story, we took out our video camera to ask Preeti a few questions.

Remember: If you have questions for Preeti send them to

Activities (Narmada)


Think you're an expert? Try this quiz!

The RED CURTAIN Drawing Challenge!

This week we'd love you to become fabulous environmental engineers! We would love you to create a drawing of how you might save the local tribes and the environment from dams being built along the Narmada (or rivers near where you live!). While dams are important for water conservation and power generation, too many dams can also do harm by blocking fish migrations, destroying the river's natural habitat and dislodging people from their natural environment causing flooding or drought. 


See the images below in the Slideshow section and use your imagination to show us the fabulous environmentalist architects you are to show how we can live in harmony with engineering and nature! 


Your drawings and ideas will help make change for a better world!

Send your drawings to us at We'll publish as many as we can on this site! (And you can see some great drawings we've received so far from kids around the world by clicking here!)

The Sacred River Narmada: A Slideshow

Swipe or scroll through these images relating to the river Narmada, ancient and modern.

Collaborators (Narmada)



Biswajit Balasubramanian


Chennai, India

Biswajit Balasubramanian (known to his firends as "Biz") is one of the best-loved cartoonists in South India, appearing in many newspapers and magazines. His endearing characters give life to a happy congregation of people and animals that populate his work. 
Apart from drawing cartoons, he regularly conducts cartoon and comics workshops across India and abroad. He has worked on several private and public commissioned projects including wall murals, his three dimensional sculptures has been an exciting foray that brings to life his world of characters. He lives in Chennai with his wife Shalini, also an artist, with whom he runs one of the leading galleries of contemporary art in India, the Forum Art Gallery

Click the button below for a video where Biswajit talks about how he came up with his wonderful illustrations for this series of stories.

Jerome Korman 


New York, USA

Jerome writes: "I’m the music director of the National Dance Institute in New York City. I get to write music and work with kids…it's the best!

Through NDI I met Preeti and have been so thankful for the stylistic stews we have created. I recently composed the music for 'C is for Choreographer' for Sesame Street, a serious career highlight! In addition, just this month I partnered with All of Us Films to create a piece for the UNEP which will bring awareness about taking care of the environment.

I love to play piano and percussion, and I really hope you enjoy these stories!"

Click the button below for a video where Jerry talks about his process for creating the music for the "Sacred Rivers" series.

FA Learn Interactive.png

We loved collaborating with online learning experts Learn Interactive on this project. 


If you're an artist or an arts organization looking to create online learning content in these challenging times, contact Learn Interactive who'll be delighted to discuss your project!

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