The Anusham Group’s recent dance production ‘Mrita Sanjeevani’ was a retelling of the age old story of Kacha Devayani. The theme was given a different treatment with the fusion of Therukoothu, selective aspects of Bharatanatyam and some magic thrown in too.
By and large a populist handling, the story also brought in mention of contemporary life. For instance, the Tamil lingo included mention of characters such as Barack Obama, allusions to Veerappan the brigand and so on. Deployment of Therukoothu in a formalised style by Koothu-p-Pattarai ensured the animated engagement of the plot at all times.
Despite the late start, the story moved on swiftly from the early scenes in the asuras’ village to Kacha’s entry in Sukracharya’s ashram.
Janani as Devayani, Narendra as Kacha and Shanmugham as Sukra formed key characters. The chief of the Asuras voraciously performed in the Therukoothu style by Pazhani, put forth humorous dialogue with panache. Recorded music with the talents of Rajhesh Vaidya blended well with the show despite a temporary hitch.
Where Sukracharya cut an impressive figure with his stern demeanour, Kacha came across as an impassive youth more concerned about getting away with the secret to revive the dead.
Devayani, the daughter of the guru, was a sweet girl who entreated her father to bring back her beau Kacha each time he was (quite brutally) chopped up or even literally fed to the dogs!
Where the story could have done with firmer handling was in the depiction of Kacha’s coming back to life. Each time the Asuras did away with him, he would be revived by the Sanjeevani mantra. The mode of his springing back to life could have been just that bit sharper and done with more zest. When it came to it, of lighting the wick to symbolise Kacha coming back to life just did not have the required impact.
The final denouement of Sukaracharya teaching the Sanjeevani mantra to Kacha was, however, done with more fanfare. The beating on the stomach carried the message loud and clear. As the hero from the Devas made his way back, one was left feeling sorry for Devayani.