Four well-known artists came together to present the theme of light, devotion and enlightenment.
The 'Light On The Path' programme celebrated a coming together of four well-known artists - Shantha and V.P.Dhananjayan (Bharatanatyam dancers), Sikkil Gurucharan (Carnatic musician) and Anil Srinivasan pianist), in a deeply contemplative setting. It was in aid of RASA, social service
organisation that focuses on the holistic development and rehabilitation of individuals with physical, mental and socio-economic handicaps through the medium of Theatre Arts. RASA was founded by dancer, therapist and social-worker Dr. Ambika Kameshwar.
The show that was put together by automobile photographer and dancer-actor, Satyajit Dhananjayan, had a stark, black-and-white feel to it. Minimal focus lighting, a simple but evocative cloth installation of a melting candle for a backdrop and simple, off-white costumes reflected this minimalism.
By nature, the genre of music created by Anil and Gurucharan is contemplative and minimalistic. Performed in a slow, chauka kalam, every note is explored as the piano provides an unobtrusive background score that has an element of tala, corresponding notes and counterpoints all at the same time.
Though dance generally thrives on its dramatic impact, the senior artists were able to fit their art into this quietness. To some extent the impact was lessened but it was in keeping with the larger picture. The lighting however did not do justice to the dancers.
The musicians set the mood for the evening with a verse from Kalidasa, ‘Suryodhayam' tuned by them in Surya raga. The accompanying group dance with lamps was effectively presented as if in parenthesis as an unobtrusive, yet important part of the effort. Melody seeped into every pore as the music took wings with 'Sakhi Prana' (javali in Chenchurutti, Dharmapuri Subbaraya Iyer), 'Vellai Thamarai' (Abheri, Subramanya Bharathi), 'Ponnin Oli' (Kamban’s description of Sita's lustre and swan-like gait as she enters the marriage hall tuned in Lalitha, khanda chapu) and 'Theruvil Varano'
(Khamas, Muthu Tandavar).
A trim and dignified Dhananjayan pleads with a child-god Kanthimathi to come to him in verses from Kanthimathi Pillai Thamizh (ragamalika). His artistry came to the fore as he emoted as a nayika in the beginning and as a nayaka in the end, the bhakthi rasa remaining unchanged. Shantha's mature abhinaya in the melancholy-filled 'Naan Oru Vilaiyattu Bommaiya' (Navarasa Kannada, Papanasam Sivan) evoked compassion for the devotee. There was impactful bhava in the music as well.
Thayumanavar's 'Angu Ingu' performed by both dancers carried a contemporary message of the universal 'ananda moorthi' carrying forward the theme of light, devotion and enlightenment. 'Enneramum' (Devagandhari, Gopalakrishna Bharati) and a Brindavani thillana completed the evening's fare.
Good artistry but the two-hour programme felt a bit long; a short and sweet session of one and a half hours would have been ideal.