Despite an esoteric theme, Pavithra Srinivasan kept the audience riveted.

Our scriptures encompass truths which affirm that material pleasures are transitory and the real goal of the human soul should be the quest for self-knowledge and thence, the Supreme. ‘Purushaartha,’ the thematic Bharatanatyam production by Pavithra Srinivasan, highlighted these eternal values with aplomb.

The 70-minute solo performance was split into three parts and incorporated excerpts from Bhaja Govindam, Kenopanishad, Bhagavad Gita and an Annamacharya kriti. Succinct English narration interwoven with the music helped decode the abstract ideas into a more perceptible form. Themes that deal with philosophy often present several challenges, not least of which is sustaining audience interest. Barring some repetitive depictions, Pavithra’s performing was lively and did not meander into sombre preaching.

Creative style

The artist’s growth could be gauged from the creative style of expression which enabled her to communicate many sections of the script effectively. However, there were some jagged edges also due to the abrupt placing of formalised statements right alongside free flowing strands of dialogues. Converging boundaries between the two forms of communication would have strengthened her dancing.

‘Bhaja Govindam’ was the first section where the English narration played a dominant role. The voice-over (by Govind) helped the dancer delineate Sankaracharya’s philosophy in the classical format. The futility of ego and the temporal nature of human life were vividly portrayed with suitable body language.

The next part from the Kenopanishad saw some ups and downs. Minimal props such as the bright coloured ribbons for Agni worked well, but the flimsy shawl to represent Vayu tended to flap too much, not to mention the distraction of the shining pin fastened on to the costume. ‘Brahmam Okate’ was used to show the conclusion of the search. The buoyant mood of the song was composed with brisk actions some apt and some not, like the jolly shoulder shrug of the Bhangra dance that looked flippant in this context.

In the end, ‘Purushaartha’ rested on the self-belief of the dancer and this ensured that the doctrines were explained with complete conviction. Even if Krishna’s 20-point programme for salvation embedded in the Gita was too overwhelming to be grasped in one stroke, Pavithra’s interpretation conveyed the essence of a higher meaning in life.

The artist acknowledged the guidance of Swami Dayananda Sarasawati in shaping the course of the esoteric theme. Hariprasad’s music composition created the energising classical tone of the performance.

Rhythmic compositions by maestro V. P. Dhananjayan and Pavithra fitted into the script at the right junctures. The recorded music featured vocal music by Hariprasad, mridangam and ganjira by Vijayaraghavan, nattuvangam by both the dancer and Vijayaraghavan, along with skills of other musicians.