The artists, perhaps, should have sought to push boundaries.
Mother is an embodiment of love and compassion and the special relationship she has with her child is a symbol of selfless love. It is this strong bond between a mother and child which became the centre of focus of ‘Maathru Devo Bhava.’ Premiered in Chennai recently by Parashah, an acronym of its four members Priya Murle, Roja Kannan, Shrikant and Ashwathy, this show, supported by the Ministry of Culture had dancer Ananda Shankar Jayant and filmmaker Rajiv Menon as guests of honour. S. Janaki compered the show
The curtains rose and sapta kanyas symbolising the sapta swaras rendered the song ‘Maithrim Bhajatha’ as an introductory prayer. The four dancers, attired in aesthetic costumes in a combination of beige and orange, emerged from the sidewings in a diagonal formation with a salutary song ‘Anbenum sollukku marupeyar annai’ interspersed with rhythmic footwork. A brief introduction to the three protagonists Yasoda, Lilavati and Shakuntala as representation of role models of ideal mothers was woven into this song.
A lone spotlight cast its glow on Shrikanth who sat at one end of the stage giving visual interpretation to the verses extolling the virtues of motherhood, to the mellifluous voice of Nandini Anand. The joy of childhood and its beautiful moments were captured with ease, and the subtle nuances of expressions revealed his mastery in the art of communication.
The three segments which followed were in a narrative format highlighting the mother and child relationship taken from three stories from our heritage. Ashwathy captured the delicacy of the Yasoda-Krishna bonding with her sensitive portrayal. Priya Murle’s powerful entry to the jati, reminiscent of patra pravesam was appropriate for Lilavati, Hiranyakasipu’s wife. The dilemma she faces and the changes in her emotions that she experiences, torn between her husband and son, came across strongly in her abhinaya.
A beautiful poo pandu sequence was the introduction to Shakuntala story, and Roja sailed through this segment capturing the varied emotions of romance, anguish and pride with ease and expertise.
The viewer is assured of high standards in a production of this nature, where each dancer in this group is an excellent soloist of merit. True enough with their commitment and devotion to their art, the show had all the hallmarks of a good production with requisite support in the areas of costume, musical score, and lights. Only the three orange drapes bunched up like window curtains did not suit the theme. From a group that calls itself Alchemists of Art, expectations naturally are high.
Therefore, when the presentation is the narrative storytelling mode, the concept and essence of the intense love and the rasa one experiences in this relationship between the mother and child, gets relegated to the background.