Evoking mythical love
The performers played their part to perfection in this artistic work on Krishna's consort, Satyabhama.
Presented in the typical Kuchipudi tradition, the performance focused on a lost style. Photos: Ch. Vijaya Bhaskar
UNDER THE canopy of a star-lit sky, the dwellers of Kuchipudi converged outside the Bala Tripurasundari temple to watch the legendary `Bhaama Kalapam'. The open stage close to the wall of the temple had basic stage lights and the rural audience assembled there were mostly dancers and scholars of the art.
In the typical Kuchipudi tradition, the prayer to Bala, the village deity began with `Amba paaraku, bala paraaku,' renting the air by the vocalist seated to the left of the stage with his set of accompanists. Dressed in a quaint gold laced turban and colourful dhoti, shirt and `angavastram' and a pair of cymbals strung across his neck this was the inevitable `sutradaarudu' (the spokesperson) who facilitates the advent of the other characters, the proceedings and acts as a middleman.
Satyabhama, the spouse of Lord Krishna enters to the tunes of `Bhaamaney satya bhaamaney,' introducing herself as the favourite consort of her lord. Dressed in dazzling white and red silk costume and ornaments to match, Vedantam Venkata Chalapathi entered as the veiled (also a convention) Satyabhama. Lightening footwork marked the stately Bhama's dance with her long hair plaited in gold lace. The fact, that Satyabhama was singled out to be the heroine of a specified artistic composition, was that in the dance parlance this character was ideally suited to be endowed with the `navarasas' (nine moods) so common to human nature. Vedantam Chalapathi was awesome both in physical appearance and emotive quality not to talk of his agile dancing abilities. A novice may not believe that it was a male impersonating Bhama, so much for the dancer's camouflage through dress as well as `haava-bhava' (action). His lissome movements while working out the `jatis', his eye language and gestures that fleeted across a gamut of emotions from the coquettish to the anxious, the envious, the generous, the devoted and above all the loving were a joy to behold.
Chinta Ravi Balakrishna as Madhavi (symbolic spokesperson), Satyabhama's hand-maiden, provided the relief through subtle humour that went straight to the heart .
The arrival of the deceptively human yet divine Krishna, played by Pasumarthi Srinivas brought in the element of spirituality garbed in romantic interplay. The sprightly Srinivas danced with abandon. `Bhama Kalapam' has a lot of spiritual connotation that is usually left unsaid. A prelude (in spoken Telugu or English) on the underlying metaphysical aspect of this dance structure would have been welcome to the educated yet lay audience. Though Vedantam Satyanarayana Sarma did give a brief on the importance of this ancient `kalapam' and its spiritual influence on the dancers in his public address, for most part it got drowned in the following felicitation ceremonies. The `mridangam' by Pasumarthi Hari spelt the `jatis' like a vocalist with excellent clarity and rhythm.
The performance, under the aegis of Sri Durga Malleswara Swami Devasthanam (Kanakadurga temple, Vijayawada) went late into the night. Not a soul stirred out of place though for the native audience, this was the umpteenth time it was being staged through the years. `Bhaama Kalapam' was the finale to the Siddendra Yogi Pavitrotsavam (commemoration ceremony), which was a day-long tribute to the originator of the Kuchipudi dance form.
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Chennai and Tamil Nadu