The Sundarakaandam occupies a pride of place in the Ramayana, and scholars and artists revel in exploring the realms of Hanuman's prowess and his devotion to Lord Rama. A depiction that blended dance, drama and music, Pavitra Srinivasan’s 'Sundarakaandam' was an inspired solo presentation.

Pavitra's presentation at Dakshinamurthy auditorium on December 6 under the auspices of Naadabrahmam, accentuated the qualities of duty and Rama bhakti. Incidentally, this gifted dancer and a senior disciple of the Dhananjayans was conferred the title ‘Nritya Sevika’ by Naadabrahmam.

Powerful flight sequence

The choreographic effort of the dancer was backed by Madhusudan and expert inputs from the Dhananjayans. Swami Dayanand Saraswati's beautiful hymn in Durga, 'Rama Bhaje' launched the recital. The performance boasted of music designed for verses from the Valmiki Ramayana and sung melodiously by Hariprasad. A narration in English between the scenes helped the flow of the storyline.

After this number that eulogised Rama, Pavitra focussed on the scenes at the seashore. The portrayal of Hanuman’s powerful flight across the ocean was presented with such gusto and zeal that one could associate with the Monkey god at once.

Hanuman’s encounter with Lankini, the guardian deity, and the laid-back manner with which he subdues her were put across convincingly. The dancer had paid lot of attention to detail as was evident from the descriptions of the city of Lanka, Ravana's chambers and Hanuman's entry into the Asoka Vana. The addition of humour in minute doses was a savvy touch. Sita’s spirited dialogue and her refusal of Ravana was an ingenious stroke.

For the most part, the choreography angled at easy comprehension. The portrayals of the circle of life and the specific facial expression for Hanuman throughout the performance were some instances that reached out to the layman.

Hanuman’s search for Sita and the subsequent events form an integral part both in the pooja and in scholars’ interpretation of the epic. Of special importance is the struggle of the soul to reach the One and the role of the Guru. Though she touched upon this briefly in her narration, this aspect could have been taken further by Pavitra in the dance idiom to complete her portrayal. What was missing from this dance production was not effort but further explorations of the underlying metaphors.

Indeed Pavitra’s character sketch of Ravana with lustful eyes and the contrast in the switchover to Sita demonstrated this dancer's grasp of fine abhinaya. Nritta as seen from the steps or jatis employed in the presentation played a minimal part. The dancer's fitness and form was really significant: she swayed, leaped, fought -- without holding back and this was a big factor in the poignant appeal of Sundarakaandam as a dance production.