Abhinaya was the cynosure of eyes, with Kalanidhi Narayanan and two of her disciples in action.

A lift of an eyebrow, a narrowing of the eyes and the quivering tip of a finger: these were enough to conjure up from thin air not just one but a pageant of lovely women. No magic trick this but a genius at work. At 80 Kalanidhi Narayanan continued her voyage down the emotive lane with two of her disciples in abhinaya - Bragha Bessel and Sangeeta Easwaran at Chandramandala Spaces.

Adding to the special attraction were the fluent voices of Geetha Raja and Shubhashini Parthasarathy rendering compositions of poets such as Kshetrayya, Pattabhiramayya, Dharmapuri Subbarayar and others. Needless to say the vocalists were in full form as they alternated for the melodies. The honeyed delivery of the padams and javalis found able accompaniment with Kannan’s mridangam play and Kalaiarasan’s violin.

The morning’s sumptuous fare included padams and javalis some of which are rarely seen on the regular performing circuits now. A wide-ranging set of emotions from laughter to anger, disgust to suspicion was tossed up like confetti in the air with the ease born of both skill and practice.

Where one nayika confronted her unfaithful lover, another openly set out on a rendezvous ignoring all gossip or idle talk. While one languished in his absence another invited him on the sly.

‘Yemandunamma’ (Kedaragowla) was the opening number performed by Sangeetha. “Strange are the ways of Muvva Gopala” confides the heroine to her friend. Sangeetha’s second lyric ‘Valapu Daatsa’ in Varali expressed the torment of a nayika and her restless state. Eloquent eyes and pouting demeanour marked the dancer’s romantic declarations which came true even in the face of a temporary lack of lighting.

Bragha Bessel’s delineation of a stern nayika taking the errant nayaka to task was a crisp number. ‘Telise Vagalela’ in Bilahari had quick strokes of sarcasm with humour as the heroine laid his flimsy excuses threadbare. Her next number ‘Moratopu’ in Sahana was delectable for the silkiness of emotion and the embroidered details of Krishna’s indifference. The eye could appreciate the rapier-sharp wit of the first lady as well as the deep feelings of the second protagonist.

Among Kalanidhi Narayanan’s core strengths are a deceptive simplicity in delivery of ideas and brevity in hasta prayoga or use of hand gestures. For that morning she had the audience enthralled as she warmed up with ‘Rama Rama Prana Sakhi’ in Bhairavi where a love struck Krishna wonders at the torments suffered by Rama, the Parakeeya nayika for the subsequent ‘Samayamide Ra Ra’ crossed the boundaries in relationships and looked at the intensity of emotions that overpowers the heart. The doyenne’s appeal to the paramour was neither sugar coated nor coy, but endowed with a singular dignity that set this depiction apart.

Similarly whether in the Begada padam ‘Yarukkagilum Bhayama’ that tossed aside conventions or the final piece in Chenjurutti (‘Sakhi Prana’) narrating the lament of the jilted woman, the teacher’s emotional clarity belied her age to uplift the performance.

Keywords: music concert

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Vidya SaranyanDecember 27, 2011