A deft `Bhama Kalapam' from Manju Bhargavi marked the two-day Kuchipudi fare.
FLEXIBILITY UNLIMITED Manju Bhargavi performed `Kalapam' with stunning ease.
The Kuchipudi art lovers had a treat for two days-thanks to Kinnera Art Theatres anniversary bash Nrityotsav, with a ballet from Vempati Chinna Satyam troupe and a Bhama Kalapam from none other than Manju Bhargavi. At the very outset it must be acknowledged that time and age have not made a dent on her as an artiste. Her flexibility and deftness at delivering the most demanding stances (in terms of adavus) are stunning. The seeming ease with which she presented Bhama Kalapam both as an expressive dance and a classical flow of an ancient tradition can give her contemporaries a run for their art.
It was an enlightening performance right from the word go. The viewers were allowed a peek into the actual Kuchipudi custom where Satyabhama arrives on the stage behind a tera (cloth screen held by two dancers), and holds a host of hastha mudras above the screen, while a male narrator introduces the theme, its technical and spiritual significance and so on. The dancers holding the screen also tap their feet in accordance to the tala relating the story of the heroine. All we can see is the tapping of a third set of feet (that is Bhama) and the hands in swift change of mudras (gestures denoting person, place or thing). The curtain that screens and shields Satyabhama itself speaks volumes of the Kuchipudi tradition. There is a lengthy braid in gold with a serpent hood at the crown hung to the centre of the tera. It is supposed to denote Satyabhama's voluminous tresses set to a plait and is presently the status symbol of Bhama Kalapam. Once the narrator has done with the outline of the story and its characters, out comes Bhama in all regality. Manju Bhargavi's commanding stature made for a compelling picture of the egoistic Satyabhama. She could execute any jati with ease and ιlan without losing sight of the profundity of the subject.
Her ability to maintain the zealous stance tinged with an arrogant love for Krishna through sheer gestures and facial expression was wonderful. The navarasas flow effortlessly through her eyes and body as she moves on from the introductory Bhama ney Satyabhama ney.., a conceited character to a feminine bashfulness in Siggayane o yamma vaani peru cheppa, to a yearning wife - Taalaleney O yamma... to an envious wife encountering her consort and finally to a realised soul. Her varied abhinaya to a single line in the verse is something to write home about.
Though Manju Bhargavi carried out the four-speed cycle with aplomb at every possible juncture in the kalapam, her corresponding hastha abhinaya suffered from lack of clarity in the top speed. So was the footstep pattern. It seemed a hurried muktaimpu rather than a perfect momentum to the finishing line. This was the only flaw in her otherwise awesome presentation.
Vedantam Venkatachalapathi as Madhavi/Madhava-a multi-dimensional and challenging character in the scheme of things, came out like a shooting star. His semi-female garb, his feminine mannerisms, his blatant statements, his digs and his jigs meant to tickle the audience, were handled with expertise of a seasoned artiste. He was able to look like a joker, an advisor, an envoy and a wise man all at once as he sailed from one sequence to another in keeping with the song.
Sudhir as Krishna was a compatible dancing partner to Manju Bhargavi in every sense of the term. Together, they made a complimentary pair especially in the romantic dispute scene set to lilting lyrics. The platform of Thyagaraya Gana Sabha (teeming with swelling crowds) was unable to hold these two towering personalities.
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