Nature was the recurring motif in the Mohiniyattom-Kathakali performance.
The gentle drops of rain, the majestic walk of the elephant, a wife's staunch love and despair were some memorable moments of the Mohiniyattom and Kathakali performance by Jayaprabha Menon and Kalamandalam Manoj at Narada Gana Sabha.
Jayaprabha, a prolific Mohiniyattom performer based in Delhi, and Kalamandalam Manoj from Kerala danced solo and later in tandem to throw up colourful moments of each art form.
Attired in classic white and gold, Jayaprabha was the dominant artist. The sweeping arcs and sways from the waist and tiptoe steps were accompanied by liquid undulations typical of Mohiniyattom. Manoj cut an impressive figure in the green make-up and colourful attire of the hero and succeeded in communicating the larger-than-life aura of his style, even if the Kathakali aspect was more of the emotive variety. The vigorous moves, jumps and similar dynamics were kept out perhaps with the intention of dovetailing with the feminine synergy of Mohiniyattom harmoniously.
It was interesting to see that Nature was a recurring motif -- in the Ashtapadi ‘Chandana Charchita,' descriptions of wildlife in ‘Kalyana Sowgandhikam' the onset of monsoon from Ritusamharam or the charm of the forest in ‘Satyavan Savitri.' Jayaprabha's nuances brought alive the different characters of the sakhi for the Ashtapadi in Mohanam and Pantuvarali but the sudden fluctuation in pace in the later stanzas could have been avoided. Earlier the invocation in ragamalika by both the dancers set a soothing pace to the programme. Manoj's enactment of Bheema who sets out to fulfil Draupadi's desire for the beautiful Sowgandhikam flower, included such emotions as ferocity, sympathy and admiration. Bheema's reactions and the pathetic plight of a mighty elephant trapped by crocodile were depicted in detail. The intricate language of hastas, specialised use of eyebrows, eyes, cheeks -- the gamut of Kathakali movements were fascinating. It seemed a pity that this was an abbreviated version of a longer work. The orchestral support on stage for this number augmented the dancing.
Juxtaposed with this was Jayaprabha's extract from ‘Ritusamharam' where the dancer exuded joy at the onset of the monsoon. Thunder, lightning, the feel of raindrops and the peacock's responsive dance caught one's attention in this piece in Amritavarshini and talamalika. Jigu Jigu Taka'was a sollu used for accentuating the effect of the raindrops.
‘Satyavan Savitri,' the concluding dance by the twosome, emphasised the elements of sringara and pathos. Jayaprabha's handling of the lament of Savitri was gripping but could have been trimmed to avoid monotony after a point. Kottakkal Jayam's melodic Thodi for the opening lines 'Charusheelan Satyavan' paved the way for the poignant story.