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A bold dance ballet

MUKUNDHAN SAMPATH

Swathi Somnath’s ballet ‘Draupadi’ touched an emotional chord.


The audience was awestruck when Dushashana pushed away the maids of the queen



Few issues elicit such strong emotions as the story of Draupadi. A queen humiliated, a lady wronged, a wife abandoned, a person unforgiving — she is such an icon symbolising the multiple facets of the Indian woman since ages. Her story has been one of the bigger blots on our Indian psyche.

It was the 42nd anniversary of the Andhra Lalitha Kala Samithi. Swathi Somnath chose to narrate Draupadi’s story in her Kuchipudi dance drama. It had all the nuances associated with the tradition of Kuchipudi dance dramas .

The sutradaras, played by Sindhuja, Sonam and Bindhya initiated the story of Draupadi. Swathi playing Draupadi, introduced her as a very coy girl pining for Arjuna. The marriage with Arjuna was quickly done with. Swathi danced in perfect unison with Raviteja playing Arjuna, depicting the lovely time they have together. Amalapuram Kannarao’s deep resonating voice lent a touch of antiquity to this piece, Jivithamika Madhuram.



A replay Swathi and team in the dance ballet

The narrator moved us quickly from her happiness to her anguish ending with a touching remark that she was always for the Pandavas but they were never for her. Enter Dushashana spitting scorn and contempt, sneering at her for being lost by Yudishtra in a wager. Tenali Seshakumar playing Dushashana did a marvellous job. He was so devious and villainous that he made Dushashana such a hateful character. Swathi, till now a queen with sparkling jewels and beautiful ornaments was suddenly in a dark costume with her hair left open – the difference was striking.

The audience was awestruck when Dushashana pushed away the maids of the queen. Some were squirming in their chairs when he pulled her to the court by her hair and many hung their heads down when he did what he had to do. It really hurt when the poor Queen went around begging for help.

Such was the effect of this scene played by Seshakumar and Swathi. Krishna’s rescue was done neatly.

The other events like Bheema killing Dushashana and the passing away of Draupadi were quickly depicted.

One felt that all the hard work in building the tension till now was not channelised in to a message on oppression against women. Susarla Sarma (nattuvangam), P.R.C. Sharma (mirdangam), Vijayalaxmi (vocal), Kolanka Anil Kumar (voilin), Venkatesh (flute) and Sridharacharya (special effects) added substance to the whole performance.

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