The Krishna magic was in full flow at the Sheejith Krishna - Anjana Anand duet performance in Chennai.
Wonder is the pervading sentiment evoked by the Krishna myth replete with paradoxes, with this ‘Jyoti swaroopa' and ‘Satya swaroopa' trespassing every rule in the book of moral laws. Catching glimpses of the Krishna magic in poetry of different regions and periods was the Bharatanatyam recital by two artistes from Kalakshetra, Sheejith Krishna partnered by Anjana Anand in Chennai.
The entire recital spun round research by Gowri Ramnarayan whose concept was visualised by Sheejith Krishna, a many-sided talent as performer/teacher/nattuvangam expert/choreographer and superb percussionist.
The wonderment began with Jayadeva's “Pralaya prayodhijale...” in praise of the 10 incarnations of Vishnu, the “Keshava dhrita…Jagadeesha hare” refrain signifying Krishna as the supreme ‘avatari'.
With each segment in a different raga, and with the two dancers changing roles constantly, the rendition held interest with the choreography showing originality even in an oft-rendered theme. The nritta segments after each avatar fittingly reinforced the interpretative parts, thanks to Sheejith's feel for rhythm and its aural resonances, as a refined mridangam player.
Action shifted to a domestic scene in Gokulam where a stranger, a digambar yogi from the Himalayas, with snakes wound round his neck and body ash-covered, with matted locks flying, pays a visit to Yashoda's home. Rejecting the wealth of alms by Yashoda, (guarding her precious child indoors, terrified of this strange visitor's intentions), the yogi insists on a glimpse of the baby, and on seeing him plays with him tenderly as the nervous foster mother looks on.
Sheejith as the yogi turned in a performance with the power of suggestion in his abhinaya making the scene live in the mind's eye of the audience. One particular detail of trying to free his matted locks (the performer ‘s luxuriant curls added to the general impact) entangled in the tender fingers of the imagined child Krishna tugging at them, will long be remembered. Anjana as the anxious foster mother Yashoda in her innocence is oblivious of being in the presence of two divine beings — one she has the good fortune to mother and the other, Shiva, who has come from his Himalayan abode to bless the child. The verses “Dekhi ik Bala Jogi Dwar Tere Aayore” attributed to Surdas are not in Khadiboli, though the pervading sense of Surdas-like mischief was underlined in Gowri's introduction.
In the next composition from the Manipravalam text of a Kathakali play, Krishna is again imagined in absentia. Here Anjana in a solo presentation as Draupadi addresses her plaint to Krishna her sakha and the only male with whom she has a relationship of trust and friendship — her fate as wife to five husbands and the horror of what happened in the Kaurava court having done little to build her faith in man.
Draupadi is however shattered when she sees even her trusted Krishna agreeing to visit the Kaurava court as Pandava emissary to win back the kingdom for the Pandavas without resorting to warfare. “Paripahimam…” laments Draupadi. Have you too forgotten the insults I suffered? Her final taunt to Krishna is “You have this thick mop of hair. Look at my undone tresses. Do I not get a chance to avenge the wrong and knot my hair again? Anjana was at her best in this item.
Namboodiri Poondanam advocates chanting of the Lord's name as the solution for overcoming trials of life. The Lord's response to a call of conviction humbles Bhattadri, boastful that the Deva Bhasha of Sanskrit he deals in is the only language the Almighty answers to.
This bhakti segment was followed by a Tamil sringar composition where one saw a role reversal — Sheejith convincingly playing the lovelorn nayika with Anjana as the sakhi listening to the plaint about the Punnai tree, and of the moon whose beams sting, aggravating pain of unrequited love, in “Vedanai seididum vennilaiyil”.
The untouched beauty of Brindavan, with all singing the praise of the Lord, is a picture visualised by Ras Khan's verses. And finally was the atypical joyous Meera in ecstasy, singing “Jhoolat Radha sanga Giridhar”.
With Gayatri Venkataraghavan providing melodious vocal support, Harish Babu on the mridangam, Haripadman providing nattuvangam and Amrita Murali on the violin, the recital had the best of musical support.