Manjari... aesthetic recital.
THE STARK white walls with a photograph of J. Krishnamurthy had a whiff of a shadow across it created by two lights strung on the two sides of the performing space. A central spot exactly above the dancer Manjari's head created a pool of light around her but created eerie shadows on her face. These somehow added to the evening's experience of a quiet aesthetic. Manjari Chndrasekhar was dancing to Sufi poems in the Bharathanatyam format for the visiting trustees of the J. Krishnamurthy foundations worldwide and the performance took place at Vasanth Vihar, a quiet beautiful corner in the middle of the buzzing city. Manjari quoted from Hazrat Inayat Khan: ``Sufism is a religion if one wants to learn religion from it. It is a philosophy if one wants to learn wisdom from it, it is mysticism if one wishes to be guided by it in the unfolding of the soul. It is a journey through which a devotee realises the union with the Supreme by denouncing the self."
Manjari chose to present the poetry of Sufi Bulle Shah and Mastaan Saheb for the evening. Dressed in shimmering white, she chose the very geometrical movements of Bharatanatyam to suggest the whirl of the dervish. The first one asked the question, ``Who am I? From where have I come and where do I go? I am not made up of the five elements, I do not belong to any caste, creed or religion. The only truth I know is birth, death and the supreme soul and nothing else." A clever piece of choreography suited movements to the subtlety of the poetry.
The second piece addressed the supreme saying, ``You exist in every atom of this creation including me yet it is said you are unapproachable." But it was the last piece based on the excerpts from ``Manonmayin Kanavu" by Mastaan Saheb, a Tamil Sufi poet, giving like many other Sufi poets, the form of a woman to the supreme that was most approachable. Manjari danced beautifully to the Sufi poems. Technically her form is crystal clear and correct. She is intelligent and sensitive and approaches the content with a fresh new angle. But one wondered if the Varnam on Meenakshi that she performed before the Sufi poems was necessary for such an evening. Technically brilliant but the predominant emotion was pain in bhakthi instead of vatsalya and pride that should have been shown while addressing the little girl Meenakshi. The same agony reflected while depicting Shringara in ``Manonmayin Kanavu." Should the Bhava there not be Madhura Bhakthi? Does Bhakthi mean pain? Also in the Aaharya abhinaya Manjari needs to pay more attention to her make up, which did not do justice to her eyes that evening. The lights did not help matters at all. Yet it was an enchanting evening with soulful singing by C. V. Chandrasekhar and Hariparasad.
The quiet atmosphere of Vasanth Vihar enhanced the poetic experience.
V. R. DEVIKA
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