Daayinee captured travails and agonies of the woman.
Daayinee the eternal giver was a production staged by The Indian Fine Arts Society that focused on the status of women in Indian society. This production was set in four acts and mixed Sanskrit verses from Manusmriti, Smriti Chandrika, Vivaha mantras and English poetry with quotations by Thiru.Vi.Ka, and songs of Subramania Bharati. Conceived and written by the late Radha Sridhar, Daayinee's music by Balasai, jati patterns by N.K. Kesavan and dance choreography by Revathi Ramachandran resulted in an energetic production that brought forth the challenges faced by women.
Kavitha Ramu, Lavanya Sankar, Manasvini, Sarada and Sridharini were among the team of talented dancers headed by Revathi Ramachandran who contributed to this collage.
The status of women in the ancient Vedic ages when women also were educated in the Vedas and their right to choose renunciation over matrimony were described in the first act.
The group effectively captured an age when women were actually respected. Women as the mother and the supreme caregiver were extolled in this segment.
The second act described the woman who was entrapped within matrimony. The saptapati mantra was portrayed as a prelude to the upset of balance. The solo and the group acts mingled as some fast miming conveyed how the Woman became an obedient servant pliable to the demands of the new bond.
An eclectic style of dance and music where the classical collated with its lighter cousins could be seen in this production. The movements were attuned to the character of the background music which meant that one could often see the standing position of the Kathak style, polished charis, graceful karanas and slick poses more than the araimandi stance.
Though much of the dancing was well coordinated the repeated loosening of jewellery and the ankle bells of some dancers were distractions. In spite of a rich fare of high verse, powerful language and music, there were moments of disparity between them.
Ultimately the strength of the individual dancers fortified the production. The combined power of their expressions and agility communicated the agony of the bride burnt for dowry, the suppression of the woman's talents.
The best moments of this presentation came in the third act. Black shawls in place of the white ones earlier signalled the oppression of the purdah and its implication of slavery. Revathi Ramachandran's involved bhava for the woman who is forced towards infanticide strengthened the storyline. Zoya Zaidi's poem ‘Women Burning Bright' was presented as a stand alone piece without the trappings of music where each dancer mimed with great feeling the agonies suffered by women.
The fourth act which incorporated Bharatiar's Pudumai Penn highlighted the positive trends in the status of women as in politics and professions.