A supple Praveen Kumar showed his deftness with excellent adavus, geometry and timing.
It is only a matter of time before the Bangalore-based Bharatanatyam dancer, Praveen Kumar, disciple of gurus Narmadha and Professor C.V. Chandrasekhar, is toasted in the art circuit. He has matured into a fine artist, hardworking and stylish. He is also a master of the understatement, but this qualification comes with a warning that too little can be dangerous and can lead to a ‘stony-face’ situation.
Praveen’s nritta carries an ‘excellent’ tag - excellent adavus, excellent geometry, excellent agility and excellent timing. He redefines agility as he finished every kitathaka-tharikitathom with a full-sit muzhu mandi, from the opening misra chapu ragamalika sabdam on Muruga composed by Shemmanar Shanmugam until the closing Valachi tillana (Adi, Dwarki Krishnaswamy) and tapped to beat while holding one-legged poses for extended lengths of time.
Despite the superlatives, the highlight of the afternoon recital was in the visualisation of the Chidambaram temple in the line, ‘Chidambaram nathane kanaka sabeshane’ in the ‘Devadi deva Nataraja’ varnam (Shanmughapriya , Adi, Veena Sesha Iyer). Praveen’s exploration was unhurried. He replicated the sculptures, often correcting the tilt of the head or the position of the eye with an underlying sense of the comic, the pillars, the flag opposite the deity, etc., - he brought alive the setting quietly and effortlessly.
In one instance in the charanam, Praveen depicted Ardhanareeshwara in the phrase ‘Girija Ramanane’ (Girija's husband), with just a small hip flexion; in an understated style.
Another big moment was in the ‘Prematho Naatho’ javali (Kanada, Adi, Mysore Vasudevachar) in which Krishna works his charms on a gopi and assuages her anger, hugging her in the end with a triumphant and arrogant smirk. While these pieces had fluidity, Praveen as a nayaka waiting for his beloved by the water, a la Kamal Hasaan, in the Subramanya Bharati song, ‘Theertha karayanile’ in ragamalika, Adi tala, did not look at ease in bits. Perhaps holding expressions longer might help.
The mood music created in the ragamalika song cannot be forgotten in a hurry: D. Srivatsa with his booming voice laid the foundation, while Mahesh Swamy, flautist, who played this song with the bansuri deserved to be the star of the team. He played non-stop. He shadowed the singer; if the singer wanted a break, he filled in and also provided the sound effects to complement the nrithya. The mridangam was no less effective: Lingaraju added his mite to the Bharatiyar song with a mridangam tuned in sadjam and added effects, playing with the centre of the drum. Prasanna Kumar was a good rhythmic anchor all afternoon.
It was interesting to see that Praveen remained a male through the show and still managed to impress us. Praveen needs a pat on the back for this show, for he has risen to be one of our best.