Chennai and Tamil Nadu
Story of five archetypes
‘Panchakanya’ depicts the miseries Draupadi, Sita, Ahalya, Tara and Mandodari had to undergo due to their husbands.
Enduring pain The ballet narrated how women suffer for no fault of theirs.
Rallabandi Kavita Prasad, the director of culture department is an eminent poet and an accomplished avadhani. Asu Kavitvam (constructing verses or lyrics extempore) is his forte.
He had earlier composed a a ballet on Srikrishna Devaraya’s work Amuktamalyada. His other literary works include Pancha Kavya and the latest ballet Panchakanya, which was staged at Ravindra Bharati.
The ballet created a record as ‘written, produced and presented in less than 24 hours.’ This record is not only for the ballet writer, but also for music composer Suryanarayana of Vijayawada and choreographer K.Satyanarayana of Eluru.
Though the characters Draupadi of Mahabharata, Sita, Ahalya, Tara and Mandodari of Ramayana are mythological, the subject has social bearing purely because they were all cheated by men in the two epics and yet were considered as ‘Kanyas’ - chaste women, retaining their character.
The ballet had plenty of verses and lyrics written in Kuchipudi idiom, like pravesa daruvus, Kandarthas, Padams.
The cast included big names as Manju Bhargavi and Kalakrishna. The creativity of the writer was visible in the way that he linked each of the characters to one or the other of the five elements – ‘Pancha Bhootas’ (Earth, water, fire, air and sky).
All the artistes played the roles with such ease as if they had been performing them for a long time. Manju Bhargavi played Draupadi. Vijay Kumar in the female role of Ahalya, Jayalakshmi as Tara, Devulapalli Uma as Sita and Kalakrishna as Mandodari gave impressive portrayals. The sequence taken from Mahabharata presented how Draupadi had to marry five princes (Pancha Pandavas) without her knowledge.
In Upaplavyam (a place where they stayed) scene, Draupadi wants her husbands to take revenge on Kauravas for insulting her and dragging her by hair to the Kaurava court by Dussasana.
Ahalya in Ramayana became a victim of Indra’s lust and had to face the wrath of her husband sage Gowthama, who cursed her to turn into a stone.
Sita was abducted by Ravana, Mandodari had to plead in vain with her husband Ravana to allow Sita to go free; Tara, wife of Vali had to live with her husband’s younger brother Sugriva, after Rama killed Vali. All these women were termed as ‘Kanyas’ in Brahma Vyvartha Puranam, as they had to undergo misery for no fault of theirs.
The live orchestra included vocalists Suryanarayana, Sasikala Swamy and Sudha. The ballet involved more than three dozen men and women in different sections of the productions. The balletwas also rich in costumes, stage craft and apt make up.
The ballet was staged under the aegis of Chaitanya Art Theatres.
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Chennai and Tamil Nadu