Ranjana Gauhar's Odissi recital was essentially an assortment of slower choreographies reflecting the maturity and dignity of the dancer. The rich musical accompaniment was an integral part of this exercise as it provided a readymade path for the dancer to follow.
Ranjana began on a vibrant note echoing her bright sunflower yellow and red costume with the invocation 'Visweshwar Darshan Kar' (Asavari, Swati Tirunal) that captured the joy of the darshan of Vishweshwar in Kashi. The musical introduction was especially elevating with the soothing strains of the sitar (Jeevan Prakash Das), and the notes of the flute (Srinivas Satpathy) filled the senses. Sukant Kundu (vocal)'s delivery was as melodious. They were accompanied competently by Vijaykumar Parikh (pakhawaj).
The Odissi recital somewhat wound down after that. The subsequent delineations were more sedate and depended heavily on the expressional depth of the dancer. While Ranjana is an expressive performer one felt she could have pushed the boundaries a bit -- plunged deeper in despair and celebrated more exuberantly in happier times. For moments of artistry happen only in rarefied climes.
An Ashtapadi ('Sakhi He,' Pahadi, Rupak, Jayadeva), a tumri in Oriya ('Beeti Lata Jamini,' Bhairavi) and a Meerabai-inspired composition ('Jhuki Aye Badariya,' Megh, Jati) formed the rest of the repertoire. The ashtapadi was handled with sensitivity but Radha's desolation when Krishna leaves Brindavan required more than good expression and the symbolism of flowers fading and the lamp getting extinguished. The tumri written by Kali Charan Patnaik was composed by Bal Krishan Das, who was inspired by his guru Bade Ghulam Ali Khan's 'Aye Na Baalam' in the same raga.
The finale had the bitter-sweet taste of Meera's disappointment, when the dark rain cloud is not Krishna as she had imagined, and Nature's magical reaction to the rain shower. The switching of gears was crucial here and Ranjana could have achieved a smoother transition. The 'rain dance' of the peacocks and the other animals was however sufficiently vibrant.