It might be early days yet, but Meenakshi Srinivasan’s Bharatanatyam recital will go down as one of the ‘picks’ of the season. Welcome to the newest star on the horizon!
Meenakshi is a disciple of Alarmel Valli, and has imbibed her guru’s vitality and energy. But it was not just Meenakshi’s dance that sizzled that day. It was a coming together of a poetic script, fresh and co-ordinated orchestra, an excellent choice of pieces and a performance par excellence, that turned ‘Madhuram Madhavam’ into a connoisseur’s event.
Krishna was introduced as the ‘one whose forehead is adorned with sindoor’ through Periyazhwar’s pasuram set to Nagaswaravali raga by Rajkumar Bharati. The love for Krishna that was established at the start was a common thread running through seemingly unconnected compositions binding them into a cohesive whole. And Meenakshi, with her expressive eyes and intense concentration made the experience very real.
Andal’s yearning for Krishna was thus a recurring slogan in ‘Aatkolla Vendum Ayyanae.’ The ragamalika varnam (adi, mridangam vidwan Vijayaraghavan) was embellished with little touches like the opening steps where Andal is seen stepping to the beat with a garland for Krishna and the rhythmic finishes called arudis, that were soft in tone and texture to go with the mood. While the elaborations were intense outpourings from the heart as in the Soodi thandha malaiye line when Andal surreptitiously tries on the flower garland meant for Krishna, the pure dance was crisp, lively and executed with flair.
The best moments were however in the closing imagery -- glimpses of the temple door shutting on a grieving father (Periyazhwar) and inside, the exchange of garlands between Krishna and Andal shown through subtle gestures, and Andal in a stupor, gets moksha... To the accompaniment of a softly intoned raga (Anandabhairavi), the moment was a priceless example of artistry.
Meerabai in ‘Kunjan Ban Chaadi He Madho’ (made famous by M.S. Subbulakshmi) and Radha in the last Ashtapadi, Kuru Yadunandana were other love stories on offer, the latter, one more gem in Meenakshi’s crown. Even the concluding thillana (Sindhubhairavi, Adi, Rajkumar Bharati with lyric by Professor Raghuraman) was perfumed with this all-consuming love.
The accompanying musicians gave outstanding performances: K. Hariprasad (vocal) who tuned the varnam transformed the arena with his melody; so did Kalaiarasan (violin). Jayashree Ramanathan (nattuvangam) was unobtrusively masterful, while V. Vedakrishnaram (mridangam) filled every conceivable space with nimble modesty.