Attention to detail in the characterisation was evident throughout Sharanya Sampath's presentation on Lord Krishna.
Sharanya Sampath's performance for Sri Parthasarathy Swamy Sabha was based on the theme of Krishna. She is a dancer who immerses herself completely in the character she is portraying and she has taken on guru Padma Subrahmanyam's way of enacting stories with down-to-earth realism.
Her performance focussed on the young Krishna, starting with ‘Oruthi Maganai Pirandhu' which detailed the imprisonment of Devaki and Vasudevan, Krishna's birth in captivity, his being taken to Yasoda's house and the subsequent warning from Devi to Kamsa that Krishna was alive and growing up elsewhere.
Sharanya prefaced this warning with the goddess's amusement at Kamsa's idea that he could vanquish Krishna and this attention to detail in the characterisation was evident throughout the performance.
For instance, in the following ‘Jagadodharana' , where a stunned Yasoda, who sees the universe in her child's open mouth, transforms into a mother again to scold him, nevertheless, for stealing butter. Or in the instance where her pride in his miracles cannot take away her protective concern as she warns him not to go near snakes again. Depicting a bored Krishna being forced to pay obeisance at an altar of Vishnu was also an imaginative touch.
The Surdas bhajan ‘Maiyya Mori' carried stanzas that are not often heard in performances and the move from ‘Main Nahin Makhan Khayo' (‘I did not eat the butter') to ‘Main Ne Hi Makhan Khayo' (It was I who ate the butter!) at the end was unusual though charmingly naughty, coming as it did, after Yasoda had accepted his ‘innocence'. Poetic licence? Or does the original text allow for the option?
Oothukadu Venkatasubbiah's ‘Maragada Manimaya Chela' brought in a trikala jati and some nritta in an otherwise overwhelmingly abhinaya oriented performance. While Sharanya performed the jati with gentle grace, there were other instances where she did not impress with the overall rhythm.
The subsequent two items brought glimpses of the adult Krishna: Jayadeva's ashtapadi ‘Chandana Charchita', which maintained the concept of a mischievous Krishna in its choreography and Bharathiar's ‘Kaakai Chiraginile', which stood out for its highly enjoyable rendering by singer Murali Parthasarathy.
The concluding tillana in Dhanasri, composed by Swati Tirunal, was in keeping with the underplayed nritta in the performance.
Sharanya is able to effectively bring out nuances in the emotions and carries off the roleplaying with charm, but she would also do well to include a higher proportion of age-appropriate abhinaya, particularly with this degree of realism in the enactment.
With guru Sujatha Mohan wielding the cymbals and Natraj providing able support on the flute, this performance also had enhancing mridangam accompaniment by Nagai Narayanan.
A little known fact is that this dancer has visited and performed in 106 temples all over India including places such as Badrinath and Gangotri.