Mythology is replete with tales about the triumph of good over evil. Though superficially they appear to be a tussle between Devas and Asuras the divine and the demonic forces, they, in a way, intrinsically represent the clash of vices with virtues inherent in our very nature and harp on the importance of nurturing virtues in preference to vices however juicy and luscious the latter may seem. One such tale is the story of Bhandasura, whose unremitted tyranny leads to the emergence of Lalithambika, an invincible form of energy that consumes all the harmful in its fierce encounter and ensures the supremacy of virtue over vice. Kuchipudi ballet ‘Lalithamba Dandita Bhanda’ staged by the artistes of Kuchipudi Kalakendram captured it in all its grace and grandeur at Kalabharati Visakhapatnam. Kotthagudem-based Nallan Chakravarthula Jagannadhacharyulu scripted it.
The mythology goes thus; Manmatha, the cupid, in a bid to help the celestial wedding of Parvathi with Siva take place, attempts to arouse Lord Siva, who remains in deep meditative state. An enraged Siva reduces Manmatha to ashes. Lord Ganesha, (Some accounts attribute it to Nandi or one of the Pramatha Ganas) in a playful way, collects the ashes and shapes it into a human form. Appreciative of his skill, Lord Brahmma exclaims ‘Bhanda Bhanda’ – well done, and endows it with life, thus Bhandasura comes into being. Having been born in ashes, he turns into a being seething with fury and in due course becomes a menace to all the worlds. As the apsaras prayed for protection, Goddess Lalithamba emerges and in a terrible fight slays the demon and restores peace and normalcy.
The ballet opened with singing paeans to Goddess and then unfolded the tale in a string of scintillating scenes. Both in group and solo movements, the choreography remained vivacious all through. Scenes like Bhandasura taking birth, and his ‘prevesa daruvu’ as a conceited young ruler came alive in an enchanting performance. Particularly Goddess Lalitambika’s emergence against the backdrop of Sree Chakram stood out. Renowned danseuse Amuktha Malyada stole the show as Lalithambika displaying her enviable command over varied shades of abinaya and intricate footwork. That she revels in depiction of subtle shades of abinaya came to fore in every frame reflecting her expressional acumen.
The well-conceived choreography harnessed the inherent dramatic element of Kuchipudi idiom to the hilt. With more than 40 artistes taking part, the performance was truly spectacular. A.B. Balakondala Rao’s, who choreographed it, nattuvangam and vocal support by N.C. Koushik and Pradhana were so spirited that the audience could not but often look at them appreciatively. A. Anand Srihari on mridangam, Raju on violin, M.V. Satyanarayana on veena, Kumarbabu on flute, Somesh on key board and Dhanunjay on tabla lent good orchestral support.
The Kendram hosted it on the second day of two-day celebration of its 16th anniversary. In the inaugural session, G. Sree staged her maiden performance presenting a few numbers from Kuchipudi repertoire with élan.