Intricate jatis, controlled abhinaya and grace were delineated with confidence and ease by each of the 52 students of Sridevi Nrithyalaya, who presented ‘Janani Jagath Karani’ at Vani Mahal recently. The ballet which was choreographed by guru, Sheila Unnikrishnan, involved three sets of dancers, nine goddesses, nine demons and nine dancers. The curtain rises with an invocation to the cosmic Mother, by nine young dancers. In and out of the stage went these children as they described ‘Devi’ as the chastiser of sinners and shelter for saints, sages and Gods. With controlled footwork and in an unhurried yet perfect manner they formed a Sri Chakram which was laudable.

The first episode was about Goddess Nidhra Devi. Here Mahavishnu was shown to be absorbed in a trance while Brahma was petrified by the demons Madhu and Kaitabha. Anusha and Archana excelled in their role as asuras. Nidhra Devi, who rises from Maha Vishnu comes to the aid of Brahma and instructs him to quell the demons. In the ensuing battle Vishnu chops off the heads of Madhu and Kaitabha.

In the second episode it was a whole group of asuras against the devas in the ‘paarkadal’ scene. The make-up for the asuras was impeccable and noteworthy were their actions, as they spanned the stage in sync with the folk music that played softly in the background. Flamboyant were their expressions as they pretended to be entranced by the bewitching Mohini (Shravanthi). Each asura outwitted the other in their abinaya as they described her rosy lips, well-set teeth, slim waist and well-groomed hair. Shravanthi kept pace with them as she went about with coy expressions and graceful movements, all the while proving how well she can handle sringara rasa. The onlookers were impressed with the choreography foray.

In the next scene the group of young dancers introduced two other devis _ Dhakshayani and Uma Maheswari (as the mother of Lord Muruga who was given the ‘velayudham’ to kill Tharakasura.) It was a high-energy presentation as they rendered garuda mandalam, utplitas and various other intricate adavus with great perfection. Never for a second did they miss out on the araimandi stance.

Realistic was the scene when Devi Kathyayani emerged as Mahishasura Mardhini during a dance by the trimurtis, in the fourth episode. The dance by Sandhya Shankaran, Subhishka and Deepta as Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, was dominated with several sarukku adavus and ‘tha thai thams’ and was quite bouncy. Her face painted yellow and adorned with a big red bindhi, Mahishasura Mardhini, wearing a lemon garland is gifted with various kinds of weapons by Agni, Varuna, Indira and Yama. At this juncture, Kamala Devi, deftly on toes, entered the scene, as the lion. With eyes wide open and with an ample supply of weapons Varsha Balabharathi, took Roudram to its peak as she quelled Mahishan. Perfect were her expressions as she slowly moved over to shantham.

Episode five, conquest of Shumba and Nishumba was the highlight of the dance. The scene was gory personified. Devi, as lalitha, assumes nine forms and destroys the rakshashas - Chandan, Mundan, Dhoomralochanan, shumban and Nishumban. Rakthabheejan, who crops up to give a tough fight, is sent to the abode of death. Mother Kali, (Shri varsha) dressed all in black, comes out from the shadow of Goddess Chamundi, and helps her by drinking every single drop of blood. At this stage, the Goddess is shown to be wearing a garland of the heads of the nine asuras who had been killed by her.

Amidst all this violence peaceful were the moments when the nine devis entered the scene on celestial vehicles such as swan, peacock, garudan, rishabham and others wielded weapons in their hands.

The sixth episode had a lot of pleasantness as Lalithambikai (Hrini Jeevitha) takes up the avatar of Kameshwari and there was good play of sringara rasa in the scenes involving the marriage of Lalitha Kameshwari and Siva Kameshwaran. It involved incidents such as exchange of garlands, uonjal and tying the nuptial knot.

But the scene changed quickly and once again roudram came to the fore when Goddess Lalitha seated on the Sri Chakra throne, riding a chariot with four vedas as wheels, four Purusharthas as horses slayed Bhandan along with other devis. The presentation came to an end with an innovative tillana.

Lyrics by Dr. Rukmani Ramani lent appeal to the whole play. Music was scored by Kuldeep. M. Pai. Flute, keyboard and Konnakol by Palghat Sriram enhanced the show. Veena by Bhavani Prasad the percussion effects by Ganapathy sustained the interest of the dance throughout.