Kunti’s life is full of pathos. Dr. Prema Nandakumar says, “Kunti seems to have been born to suffer.” Chitra Chandrasekhar Dasarathy brought out Kunti’s story in a moving presentation of stunningly dignified abhinaya set to an even more stunning sound-scape (Prof. C.V. Chandrasekhar, Chitra).
Chitra had an able support in Manasi Prasad (vocal) who delivered the cascade of ragas in the swara passages, tanams and alapanaas in varying speeds to suit the occasion.
Take for example the Kunti Swayamvara scene that began with a folksy Anandabhairavi swaram taken in a beautifully slow pace. The pace picked up with the wedding set to the ‘Ananda’ Kannada thillana bit.
Change in mood, tempo
A slightly agitated taanam depicted Pandu killing the deer and receiving the curse, and the resultant pathos in Kunti in a soulful Hindolam. All this in a span of one segment, part of a scene actually. Such were the quick changes of speed, tune and mood throughout the 90 minute programme.
One of the most moving scenes was the Kunti-Karna meeting when Karna introduces himself, ‘Radheyoham?’ (I am the son of Radha and Adiratha) to which Kunti shakes her head and softly replies, ‘Kaunteysthvam...’ (You are the son of Kunti, not Radha).
Expression of sorrow
The mother’s guilt and despair know no bounds. ‘I wanted to tell you before I die... to clear the muck in my heart...’ Chitra spoke these lines herself bringing out the sorrow through vachika abhinaya as well.
Chitra also created a poignant visual in the end. When Kunti decides to retire to the forest after the war, she blesses her sons. Breaking her bonds of attachment she makes to leave... In a telling gesture, Chitra removed her bells and walked away in silence...
It was a powerful moment of artistic silence.