‘Tamizh' had many levels with melodious film songs as the mainstay. RUPA SRIKANTH

Madhuvanti Arun's latest offering ‘Tamizh' was premiered at the sabha's Margazhi Mahotsav opening. The introduction to the Bharatanatyam-based production informed rasikas that they intend to ‘to entertain and inform'. And so they did.

There were many levels to this production; at one, it was scholarly, with a thesis on Tamil culture through its political history, literature, religious beliefs, society, art and crafts including the history of Bharatanatyam that prefaced each segment of the production. It was information overload at times, not leaving enough time for explanations of the dances to follow, but that is a moot point. At another level it was enjoyable, with the popular Tamil feature film music of stalwarts such as K.V. Mahadevan, M.S. Viswanathan, Ilaiyaraja, A.R. Rahman and other noted music directors.

Can one resist a rewind session with songs such as Bharatidasan's ‘Tamizhukkum Amudhenru Paer' from ‘Panchavarna Kili,' the M. Karunanidhi-penned ‘Poompuhar' song, ‘Vaazhkaiennum Odam,' Subramanya Bharati's pre-freedom ‘Velli Panimalai,' and the poignant lullaby about the difficult life awaiting the girl-child in Kannadasan's ‘Kaalam Idu.' These were in the introduction and literature segments.

The dance on the other hand, was very basic, rather slapstick at times, filmy at others and on the whole uninspiring. The show was not a dance-drama, but dance and drama, ‘and' being the operative word. To be fair, one has to acknowledge the perfect synchronisation and the timing of the dancers (Madhuvanti, Narendra Kumar, Anusha and Yatin) although one cannot applaud their style. Bharatanatyam, Bharatanrithyam, folk dance and mime were the ingredients of this potpourri with audio visuals complementing the performances.

Popular art cannot be condoned in a classical milieu. The ‘Marriage' segment with ‘Yerikkaraiinmele' (‘Mudalali'), ‘Muthachamba…Namma Veetu Kalyanam' (‘Annakkili') and ‘Porandaalum Pombalaiyya' (‘Policekaaran Magal') may have been funny but took away from the dignity of the production.

The devotional segment on Muruga with group choreographies in ‘Aaarupadai Veedu Konda' (‘Kandan Karunai') and the Thiruppugazh ‘Muthaitharupathi' (‘Arunagirinathar') was vibrant and meaningful. ‘Megam Karuthirukku' (‘Thaneer Thaneer') as a folk number was also full of life. There was poignancy and depth in Madhuvanti's, ‘Kaalam Idu' (‘Chithi') in which she tells her girl child to sleep now as she may have to face many difficulties later and may not have the time to sleep.

There was also some creativity in the sculptor's piece, ‘Kallile Kalaivannam Kandaan' (‘Kumudham'), but these pieces were few and far between. ‘Tamizh' ended with the patriotic ‘Tamizha Tamizha' (‘Roja'), a haunting melody that stayed with you on for a long time... The production entertained and informed, but did not elevate.