BRAHMA GANA SABHA
Evocative nritta and abhinaya
"Bharathiyarin Viswaroopam," a dance ballet by Lata and Geeta. Pic. by S. R. Raghunathan
IT WAS supposed to be a jugalbandhi by three dancers pursuing three styles - Priya Murle - Bharatanatyam, Gopika Varma - Mohiniyattom and Uma Muralikrishna - Kuchipudi. The first invocatory slokas, taken from Soundaryalahari, were danced individually by the three in their respective styles. If Kuchipudi was full of sensuous movements, Mohiniyattom was filled with slow circular movements of the limbs even while doing the jatis and Bharatanatyam was as usual with brisk Nritta. Then to justify the title of the programme `Streeshakti' they took up the stories of Savitri, Draupati and Kannagi. Almost the entire story of Savitri was enacted in Kuchipudi by Uma with expressive abhinaya as the heroine and Yama, the Lord of Death. Gopika's abhinaya reminded one of Kathakali a lot while depicting the anger and vow of Draupati. To enact the final scene of Kannagi story Priya came with her hair let down. The Nattuvangam was by Kishore, vocal support by Sundar, violin by Veeramani, mridangam by Venkat, Edakka by Suresh and veena by Bhavanishankar.
Latha and Geetha's `Bharathiyarin Viswaroopam' had selected verses of Bharathiyar set to music by Rajkumar Bharathi. He had also sung most of the pieces and some were by Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi and Usha Rajappa. Six verses on Ganesha, Muruga, Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Krishna comprised `Aaru Thunai'. This was depicted by Latha and Geetha together. `Iyarkai' again had different verses on the aspects of fire, rain and wind ending with the sun. The sisters effectively enacted the real-life episode of the poet when on 16th November 1916 he had to suddenly shift his house before it was destroyed in a severe storm, of which he had also composed a poem. `Madhu' was a solo item by Latha. Different kinds of intoxication were depicted, due to liquor and the company of women. Latha's dramatisation as a drunkard was very good mixed with some comic elements and her face was full of varied expressions. The second was announced as `Yoga,' though the depiction was of a devotee performing puja and praying to the God. The third was the intoxication or rather the relaxed attitude of a person who believed in Advaita. Bharathiar has punned on the word `Madhu' in these verses.
`Asaimugam Marandhu poche' was a solo number by Geetha. she depicted the lovelorn woman effectively. The two different poems `Mannum Imayamalai' and `Punnagaiyum Innisaiyum' showed that the poet while singing the glory of his motherland also recognised the decadence it was going through. These contrasting aspects and the final hope that `we would reach our goal' were danced with appropriate abhinaya by the sisters. The final item was a tillana.
Sarayu Sai is good in nritta and abhinaya. It was nice to see a contemporary young dancer doing a proper Araimandi. She began with `Vishnukauthuvam' after which came the main piece varnam in Valaji `Anname' by Subbudu. One must commend her composure under the onslaught of the mridangam by Sudhaman, who seemed to be playing on his own track. Very often his fingering had nothing to do with the sollus that Sarayu was dancing to. Her facial expressions were very impressive in this item. She seemed very relaxed even when doing `Theermanams'. `Sivasakthi' (Kauthuvam) of Bharathiyar in the same raga came next. `Narayana' in Suddhadanyasi of Purandaradasa was taken up next. Though her expressions of Sakuni's cunningness and Draupati's helplessness, anger and devotion to Krishna were indeed praiseworthy, the Sanchari was too long, particularly for a post-varnam piece. The final number was a Tillana by T.K. Govinda Rao.
The nattuvangam was by Lakshmi Ramaswamy, vocal support was provided by Vanati Raghuraman, violin by Kalaiarasan and mridangam by Sudhaman.
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