The seasoned dancer that he is, Kathak exponent Prasanth Shah was a treat to watch.
Despite a thin audience at Krishna Gana Sabha, guru and choreographer Kumudini Lakhia’s disciple Prashant Shah performed his solo Kathak with enthusiasm regaling connoisseurs with intricacies in an enjoyable manner.
Dividing his time between the U.S. and India, Prashant has carved a niche for himself as a brilliant dancer and acquired expertise by exploring various intra forms of Kathak, revealing the beauty of Kumudini’s style, which though rooted in traditional Lucknow gharana, appears novel.
Performing the Meera bhajan, ‘Maro Pranam’ popularised by Kishori Amonkar, Prashant set the devotional tone, highlighting nuances of the song addressed to Lord Krishna, Banke Bihari, adorned with peacock feather, holding a flute and mesmerising the gopis, cows and birds.
Kathak dancers perform one or two chosen talas. Prashant selected teen tala and unleashed nritta, pure dance, engaging ladis, uthans, and after warming up took to thaat, with micro movements of the wrists, arms and gathering energy, struck a variety of poses. Interspersing them with brief pleasant sallies, he and the tabla player kept up the exacting rhythm. Reciting the bols, the mnemonic syllables dha tit, dha tit, in Panchapalli (five ways,) he displayed command over tala and laya, executing flawless footwork. He gradually wove in complicated bols and took chakkars to rounds of applause. The manner in which he danced dha taka thunga in three speeds and handled panch ki tihai (five avartanas), was admirable.
Padhant, the recitation of the bols by him, was pleasant, uncluttered and perfect. Parans, dovetailing chakkars, were his favourite numbers. Covering the stage, he danced with graceful movements of arms. There was saushthava, correct position of the body and Kathak ‘ang’ in his exposition.
Enacting mime to the Urdu ghazal, ‘Hamara dil Savereka sunhera’ by Basheer Badr, for which music was composed by late Atul Desai, Prashant vividly expressed a nayak’s sadness and a forlorn state, addressing the morning, the evening, the sky and the earth, seeking solace.
Selecting another tala, Dhamar of 14 beats, he executed parans and tihais with flair. Before rounding off the recital, he performed in drut tukda and gat in teen tala highlighting the Lucknow gharana.
Both the tabla player and he had an exciting jugalbandi, competing in a friendly manner in brilliant tatkar, footwork. No wonder, he won great praise for his excellent recital.
The musicians Joby Joy (tabla), Prahar Vora (vocal), Sarfaraz Khan (sarangi) and Ishwar Rao (sitar) gave him able support bringing out the characteristics of Kathak.