The revived ‘Pallaki Seva Prabhandamu’ was riveting, and every dancer shone here.
Re-creation of an artwork, created at a different time space, gets a new lease of life when it is injected with an energising dose of freshness in approach to suit the new audience in a new age. Rasoham (a trust formed by Lasya and Lavanya, the daughters of The Narasimhacharis) revived Shahaji Maharaja’s opera, ‘Pallaki Seva Prabhandamu’, presented by the Narasimhacharis, nearly three decades ago.
The second edition of Unity Concert Series was noteworthy in the manner in which the significance of the Gurukulam was highlighted. The Charis picked flowers from the well- maintained (groomed) gardens of Gurus and beautifully strung them together into a garland (not a bouquet)…. Kudos to them for the brilliant choreography and the manner in which they blended the individualistic natyam of various Gurus into a cohesive entity.
The story is about Kamalamba seeking a union with Lord Tyagaraja, wondering how to communicate the message to him, and finally the sakhis realising that the direct approach is the best way! The Lord arrives in the pallaki to fulfil her wish.
The opera opens with an aesthetic frieze of Lord Ganesha and a group of dancers in Anjali mudra, a beautiful composition. Though the initial sequences, involving the sakhis and the various messengers, seemed a trifle too long, the opera gained momentum with the arrival of the pallaki and Siva, and managed to sustain audience interest.
Each of the dancers did their guru-parent proud with the competence and conviction in which they danced. Gayatri Kannan performed the nayika’s role with delicacy, grace and dignity. Her attami was such a delight to watch - a Tanjavur doll come alive! Like the Kurunji flower (returning to dance after a decade), Satyajith Dhananjayan, not withstanding the initial self-consciousness, donning the role of Siva, proved that he had not lost his dancing shoes after all… he was every inch the macho Siva.
Drawing a link to their place of origin, the Narasimhacharis integrated their folk art of Tholu Bommalata by master puppeteer, Selvaraj, into the production judiciously, without it being a mere visual appendage.
The sequences of the deer pleading with Siva, the pallaki procession and the snake sliding out of Siva’s torso, crawling to the edge of the screen and a dancer (masterly performance by J.J. Vasanth) emerging from there as a snake, added a theatrical dimension, which was richly rewarded by a thunderous applause from the audience.
Yet another beautiful sequence was that of four dancers as sakhis, singing the first lines of ‘O Deena Madana’ – live before the recorded version took over, thereby highlighting the dancers’ competence in music too.
The musical score researched and resurrected by V. Sambamurthy had an old world charm and was sung soulfully by Narasimhachari. Victor Paulraj’s lighting design added yet another dimension to the dance. Throughout the dance, each of the dancers had his/her own ‘circle of light’ in the ‘Hall of fame.’ Vasudev Menon did a commendable performance as sutradhar.
Lasya and Lavanya, heading the Rasoham team, need special commendation for the brevity, simplicity and decorum with which the felicitation function was conducted.
In an era of speed and tension, ‘Pallaki seva..’ was a golden leaf from a bygone era, where one could sense that it is only in a particular pace that we can get peace – the leisurely pace was reflected through the musical score and the dance choreography of the production – to be viewed and re-viewed!