While Tabashmi Paul Majumdar’s first Kathak recital in Delhi was impressive, aspects beyond dance technique should have been given more attention

A disciple of Malavika Mitra of Kolkata, Tabashmi Paul Majumdar in her first solo appearance on the Delhi stage, performing under the aegis of the India International Centre, impressed as a dancer with command over both abstract and interpretative aspects of Kathak. The “Jaya Durge” start with a vandana to the Goddess in her benevolent and evil destroying moods, straightaway established a well finished dancer, and this despite the distractions of an over-loud sitar which seemed to scream raga Durga with strident strings. In the Teen tala nritta, it was heartening to see a dancer taking her time over the thaat portion, enjoying it, rather than making this minimal start with its very subtle aesthetics just a passing phase – which dancers today are often wont to do.

Upaj had its improvised footwork woven into the lehra which, unfortunately, instead of a steady refrain flowing like a pulse with the dance intra-forms built into it, delighted in variations, giving a wavering quality. But the dancer in weaving combinations of tisra, chatusra, khanda and misra showed her grasp over layakari.

Amad, uthan, parmelu and gat nikas with three sequences comprising the “seedi gat”, portraying the proud nayika, and finally mayur gat were all well done. The kavit (one of her guru’s specialties), and the badalparan were all well done. One was disappointed with the lack of response from the audience which beyond lukewarm applause did not express its appreciation heartily. The Bindadin thumri “Kaise jaon Shaam rokat dagariya” was too fleeting in treatment, with very little elaboration, to make much of a statement despite the dancer’s expressional ability. And cannot musicians cultivate the discipline to stop from strumming the instruments while the dancer is explaining something over the mike? All one could hear was a garble of sounds with no clarity.

The Dhamar nritta with lehra in Malkauns was neatly executed, the bandishes ending in unusual freezes with a competently executed “anagat’’ sequence too. Even the tabla of Shobir Thakur was drowned in the medley of the sitar.

The concluding note with the Meera Bhajan “Hari tum haro jan ki peer” in the narrative treatment of episodes showing Vishnu coming to the rescue of the devotee through Draupadi Vastrapaharanam, Narasimha killing Hiranyakashipu to save bhakta Prahlad and Gajendra moksham was rendered with a great deal of involvement, without exaggeration. The conviction in abhinaya while constantly changing from a negative to a benevolent role and vice-versa was praiseworthy.

While costuming is a matter of individual taste, something less gaudy both in the garment colours and in the jewellery would put the focus more strongly on the dancer, apart from aiding general aesthetics. From the little one could hear, Subhashish Bhatt provided adequate vocal support.