Manju Bhargavi's golden jubilee as a dancer was celebrated with a graceful show of her talent.
She is better than many filmstar-dancers of her age and ilk.
While others compensate for the lack of dancing capabilities with synthetic stage décor, grand mythological costumes and psychedelic lights, Manju Bhargavi actually came up with a totally traditional repertoire, Bhama kalapam along with a live orchestra.
Manju Bhargavi's kalapam began with the ritualistic Amba paraku invocation by the vocalists and followed the traditional format of the Vipra (a brahmin spokesperson) announcing the onset of Bhama with a brief background of Lord Krishna and his consort Satyabhama, known for her egoistic love and devotion.
Two other female dancers join him in heralding the extraordinaire, gorgeous Satyabhama whose entry on stage is marked by a cloth screen atop which rests the famed ‘gold plait' (that is supposed to adorn her lengthy tresses), held by two dancers.
The spokesperson further eulogises the pedigree of Satyabhama and it is only then that the audience get a glimpse of the protagonist.
Manju Bhargavi launched into the ‘pravesha daruvu' of Bhama to the lines, Bhama ne Satyabhama ne, a self-introductory dance wherein the dancer has the scope to showcase the characteristics of her role, her own virtuosity in expression and footwork which is done in three cycles of speed in keeping with the metre and rhythmic move of the song.
The vermillion costume, though a little flamboyant, suited the character of Satyabhama who is supposed to be endowed with Rajo guna.
The varied mudras to depict Gopala baluni and nerajaana were welcome but the other part of the abhinaya, the sangathis throughout the kalapam (Inthine, chamanthi ne) and such others were rather repetitive which is not what we look for in an experienced dancer.
Though she confined herself to optimum footwork, the dancer was agile with many a movement and an adept at mukhabhinaya.
Certain scenic sequences in this kalapam need a mention. The handmaiden ‘Madhavi' (brahmin/spokesperson) and Satyabhama's conversation with mime and song was very convincingly portrayed.
This character not just added to the humour with witty repartee, but also served as the alter ego of Satyabhama.
The questioning and the dressing down was nothing but the pure consciousness within the egoistic body that is nurtured with beauty, breed and brains.
The parting gift of her cherished nosestud is one such episodic interpretation of this philosophy.
We wish more dancers bring this point out, aesthetically of course, as they enact the characters so that Bhama Kalapam will be understood by the present day audience in its true sense.
Similarly, the verbal dual between Krishna and Satyabhama (Sattva guna vs Rajo) was a pleasure to watch. Sudhir Rao as Krishna was impressive with his postures, dance and convincing looks.
For once, we were happy it was not an effeminate Krishna (female impersonification).
He danced with sweet abandon and emoted with clever manipulation which suited his character. Jagannath Rao as the spokesperson lived his role.
Nattuvangam by Vedantam Ramu and vocal support by Suryanarayana and Sudha were up to the mark.
Sharan Incorporation of Chennai hosted the performance at Ravindra Bharati to felicitate Manju Bhargavi's 50 years of dance career.