Tribute to Lord of Kaanipakam
`Kaanipakam Vinayakam' highlighted the significance of the pilgrim centre.
UNIMPOSING RECITAL The dance drama retold an old fable. Photo: K. Ramesh Babu
A ballet cannot sustain itself on the talents of one single artiste; more so if that performer is not the principal character of the play. M. (Ardhanaareeswara) Venkat's Kaanipakam Vinayakam (penned by Vithal Thumalapalli) turned out to be a damp squib in more ways than one.
Firstly, if the audience hoped to glean more information from mythology about the popular pilgrim centre of Kaanipakam and the deity Vinayaka there, there was nothing new this ballet had to offer. It told the same old fable of Ganesha's birth, his being severed to death by an angry Shiva who fails to recognise the boy as Parvathi's son and later brought to life with an elephant's head. The introduction of Gajasura (an Asura) as a link-up to Ganesha is the only extra angle added to this plot.
The deafening acoustics of Thyagaraja Gana Sabha blared the recorded singing and orchestra for this ballet with no effort on the part of the technicians to fine-tune the mikes. The dancers, especially the female artistes, were dismal. Whenever there was a group trouping in as the sequence required, it was literally running over each other's feet leaving synchronisation to the winds. The group could have been trimmed keeping in view the narrow stage room especially in scenes like Parvathi's bath, and the Kailas. Throughout the ballet, there were no two dancers who could achieve perfect coordination in movements be it Brahma (Shekar) and Saraswathi (Nagalakshmi who kept changing her hastha mudra from veena to abhaya, and vice-versa all in the same scene) or Vishnu (Vijay) and Lakshmi (Bhavana). The headgear of Vishnu dangled all over making the character look ridiculous.
The only redeeming feature of Kaanipaakam Vinayakam is the entry of Gajasura (Nagasai) with his two attendants. Whenever Gajasura made an appearance on the stage, the discernable dancer in Nagasai came to the fore. His perfect posture coupled with vigorous footwork and a devoted-arrogant abhinaya in keeping with his character made for a creditable performance. So too were the relief characters of the ox players.
The male dancers who bring in the ox (concealing two dancers) made an interesting foursome with brisk footwork and rustic expressions. Change in costumes to suit the characters is worth a mention. Garimella Gopalakrishna's smoothvoice (despite the acoustics) sounded pleasant in total contrast to the high-pitched vocal by Aparna (female lead). The nattuvangam was sonorous, while mridangam was deafening.
Send this article to Friends by
Chennai and Tamil Nadu