Deepa Raghavan displayed a fine command over her medium and Nalacharitam, the Kathakali performance, was an exquisite rendering
The Every Friday Cultural Evening Programme of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations featured a Bharathanatya recital by Deepa Raghavan at Yavanika, Bangalore, last week.
A brief invocatory piece based on verses paying obeisance to Lord Shiva set to Revathi raga and interspersed with jathis, led to the varna “Mohamaginen Inda Velayil”, in Karaharapriya raga and adi tala, which was the focal point of the performance. The nayika, consumed by longing and tormented by Kamadeva with a merciless shower of arrows, entreats her sakhi to carry her message to Lord Shiva with a plea to relieve her suffering. The item displayed a fine balance between the pure dance and interpretative aspects, with elegant emoting and flawless footwork, underscored by an impressive command over technique and internalisation of the theme.
In contrast, the Purandaradasa devaranama in Kapi raga was a convincing exposition of the ‘vatsalya bhava', the artiste playing the doting mother Yashoda enticing the toddler Krishna with tempting treats. Little vignettes such as her attempts to feed him after distracting his attention were endearing. Unalloyed bhakthi surfaced in the portrayal of “Vazhi Marai”, an extract from “Nandanar Charithram”, while Radha's annoyance after a tiff with Krishna was engagingly enacted in the succeeding Surdas bhajan, one of the best items of the evening. The performance concluded with a reiteration of the dancer's rhythmic prowess in the Mohanakalyani tillana, aided in no small measure by vocalist Srivatsa's bhava laden and melodious renditions, and exemplary orchestral support from Gurumurthy (mridanga) and Dayakar (violin).
The Bangalore Club for Kathakali and the Arts hosted a Kathakali performance based on “Nalacharitam” (First Day) at the Seva Sadan Hall recently. The cast, guided by Evoor Rajendran Pillai, included Saritha Varma (Nala), Parvathi Menon (Hamsam), and Sreema Menon (Damayanthi), supported by Kalamandalam Rajesh Babu and Kalamandalam Sreejith (vocal), Gopikrishnan Thampuran (chenda) and Kalamandalam Vineeth (maddalam).
“Nalacharitam”, Unnayi Warrier's magnum opus in four parts, is a work of unparalleled literary and artistic merit. The current presentation, which began with the conventional keli, was extracted from the first part, which is replete with instances of vipralambha sringara. The initial scene focused on sage Narada's description of Damayanthi's beauty and Nala's longing for her, culminating in an exquisite rendering of the celebrated padam “Kundinanayaka Nandini” set to Kalyani raga.
The dramatic entry of the golden swan, suffixed with an entrancing pure dance component, and his promise to meet Damayanti and ascertain her feelings for Nala, formed the second scene. The concluding part began with the captivating “sari nrittam” performed to “Poomakanum' Mozhimathum” in Punnagavarali, and included the swan's meeting with Damayanthi, embodiment of the enchanting lasya element of Kathakali. The three main roles of Nala, Damayanthi, and the swan were performed by women, a comparative rarity in Kathakali which is traditionally the domain of male artistes. Each of them displayed consummate artistry, despite the fact that the entire performance was a compressed representation of the original, and managed to elicit and hold audience interest with tuneful vocal support and exceptional percussion accompaniment.