With exquisite abhinayas and sprightly jatis, Shanmugasundaram’s portrayal of episodes from the life of Lord Ganesha and Rama, were vivid and remarkable.
K. Shanmugasundaram’s Bharatanatyam performance under the aegis of Rajalakshmi Fine Arts, Coimbatore, was filled with intense energy and manly grace. A senior disciple of K.J. Sarasa, he began with the Pushpanjali in Gambhira Nattai, and followed it with two thevarams, ‘Kunitha Puruvamum’ and ‘Thodudaiya Seviyan.’ The Siva Thandavam that preceded the thevarams was packed with as much power as elegance.
The varnam was a rarely heard composition in Nattakurinji (‘Vaarana Mukhavaa’) by T.V. Gopalakrishnan on Lord Ganesha. Shanmugasundaram vividly portrayed three episodes from the life of Ganesha, (the reason for his elephant head, his winning of the mango and his role in helping his brother Murugan marry Valli) with exquisite abhinayas and sprightly jatis. It was delightful to watch Ganesha dancing around his parents with his stocky body.
Some of his depictions were truly remarkable– as when Ganesha, who lay dead with his cut head, came alive once the elephant head was attached. At first, the still body stirred slightly, then the whole body shook with the thrill of life and he slowly stood up flapping his ears, as the elephant-headed God.
Shanmugasundaram brought out Tulsidas’s doting adoration for Rama while he described the lotus-eyed, lotus-faced, lotus-palmed and lotus-footed Sri Rama in ‘Sri Ramachandra Krupaalu’ in Yamuna Kalyani. The brief sanchari for the phrase, ‘Janaka Suthaa Varam’ was brilliant. With a few gestures, he brought alive the first meeting of Rama and Sita, Rama breaking ‘Siva Dhanusu’ and his wedding with Sita. The song ended with the sober chanting of ‘Sri Ram.’ The scene shifted to Ashokavanam in Sri Lanka with Sita sitting as a picture of sorrow thinking of Rama. Hanuman appeared in front of her with the same chanting and the song ‘Hanumaane, Swaamikindha,’ followed. The sancharis for this musical piece from ‘Ramanadaga Keerthanai’ described the two aspects of Rama’s character - valour and compassion. Shanmugasundaram concluded with the thillana in Brindavani by Balamuralikrishna.
The supportive orchestra was led by Girish Menon who gave an impressive vocal support. L. Narendrakumar’s nattuvangam, N. Ramakrishnan’s mridangam and Sunil Bhaskar’s violin were faultless.