Dancers Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala, her students and Narendra brought alive the devotionalethos in Muthiah Bhagavathar’s lyrics.
The musical compositions of Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar reveal his expertise in music, profound knowledge of the scriptures matched by devotion as well as felicity of language. He was a multifaceted personality and his unstinting efforts to promote and preserve classical music paid rich dividends that can be seen even today.
Well-known artists Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala and L. Narendra Kumar’s Bharatanatyam presentation on the works of this stalwart showcased how his lyrics reverberate with colour and movement. Organised by Narada Gana Sabha and the Harikesanjali Trust for the 136 jayanthi of the musician, the presentation also featured Parvathi’s students from her school, Kalapradarshini.
The dance choreography by Parvathi and Narendra reflected the background research and work that had gone into setting the lyrics to dance.
The significance of the theme was established with the first few songs itself where Narendra donned the part of Bhagavathar. ‘Siddhivinayakam Seveham’ in Mohanakalyani and Adi, was depicted with a seated Narendra singing and teaching music to young pupils, followed by group dancing of the contextual sollu on Lord Ganesha.
‘Saravana Bhava’ in Pasupatipriya by Parvathi and her students celebrated the story of Muruga from his birth to his dwelling at the six holy places and also included Kavadi demonstrations and bhajan singing by the dancers holding cymbals.
‘Vaanchathonu’ in Karnaranjani brought out the devotional element while the famous varnam, ‘Mathe Malayadhwaja’ in Khamas brought drama, bright colours and many theatrical poses together. The tableau of Siva and Meenakshi by Narendra and Parvathi was aptly portrayed.
As such, this part of the presentation put the accent on group efforts, rhythmic coordination, drama and flamboyant showmanship. The varnam ‘Mathe’ was certainly an enjoyable spectacle but then Muthiah Bhagavathar’s inspired cadences for the Mother dominated the air with their musical feeling. Nuanced artistry in the dance idiom was given its due in the ensuing portions of the presentation. A little fine-tuning would ensure this pervaded the whole performance.
The succession of Bowli, Kalyani and Kharaharapriya for the next set of songs factored in the crucial space for emotion. Narendra’s subtle handling of remorse and pathos was spot on for ‘Tappulanni Taalako.’ Similarly, the ninda stuti on Lord Siva Muruganukku performed by him reinforced the humorous mocking nicely without resorting to lokadharmi actions.
Parvathi’s picturing of ‘Moovasai Konda’ harnessed both the narrative as well as the empathetic elements in the lyric. Sincere devotion for the Devi in the next song ‘Rajarajaardhike’ in Niroshta emphasised Parvathi’s abhinaya. The sway of the body, reflective of the Kathak style and rhythmical intricacy, went hand in hand with the Hamsanandi thillana.
The other positives were synchronised dancing by Preeti. S, Vallabhi, Ramapriya, Preeti, Divya and Yuvasree, elegant costume and strong orchestral support by Sasirekha Rammohan, Hariprasad, M. K. Kesavan, Sivakumar and Atul Kumar.