Murthy's style in abhinaya laid the accent on body language and movement of the eyes.
Suryanarayana Murthy, faculty member at Kalakshetra and the disciple of The Dhananjayans, is a gifted dancer. His recital was an outpouring in more ways than one. His solo recital had just got off to a rousing start when the rain god put in a special appearance. Regardless, Murthy continued and went on to present a power packed recital.
Perfect alignment of the feet, vibrant leaps and jumps, and of course the text book perfect araimandi were testimony to both skill and drill.
Natyanjali the opening number was an unhurried exposition of the different nadais such as khandam, misram, etc. in ragamaalika. Each stanza evoked a deity and contained a brief salutation to the Guru. This piece gave the dancer time to get into his groove for the evening.
The Rama Varnam in Kharaharapriya was a showstopper. This vibrant piece seemed to be tailor made for the male dancer with exhaustive explorations of nritta followed by involved abhinaya.
The pallavi and anupallavi were expressions of the devotee's pride and praise for Rama while the charanam flashed some episodes from the Ramayana.
Murthy's style in abhinaya seemed to give predominance to body language and movement of the eyes so that the exuberance displayed in the pure dance was tooled down to subtle emoting. The sancharis, where he distinguished the majestic walk of Rama from the swagger of Manmatha and the story of Valmiki with crystal clear tones of remorse and sorrow, were moments when the dancer sidestepped conventional sringara interpretations in favour of devotion.
The ten incarnations of Narayana that were integrated into the swaras heightened the interest and carried the narration forward.
The Tulsidas Bhajan gave the dancer freedom to portray several episodes linked with Rama. The stories of the descent of the Ganga subsequent to the Vamana Avatar, the liberation of Ahalya, Bharata's worship of Rama's padukas and Guha, the boatman who had the good fortune of worshipping Rama's feet were all interfaced with the devotee's surrender to The Lord.
‘Priye Charusheele' is a popular Ashtapadi verse, where Radha is disappointed and dejected with Krishna and sternly turns him away. Krishna's numerous attempts to placate her fail. Inspite of Murthy donning a garland, he could not seem to grasp the playful impishness of Krishnavatar and somehow, Rama's fragrance hung over this item too. The enduring love of Krishna for Radha came through but with remnants of Rama's ekapatni vrata perhaps because the lion's share of the recital was made over to this God.
Vocalist Randini's soulful singing facilitated the dancer in his expressions of Bhakti while nattuvannar Gopukiran and mridangam player Vedakrishna added to the dancer's vim and vigour.
Anantanarayanan's veena which played truant with the microphone for the opening number came through for the varnam. His brigas for the Kharaharapriya ragam provided bright touches to the music. The Balamurali tillana provided a good finish with its fast tempo and racy swaras.