The crackling chemistry between Shijith and Parvathy made their recital a joy to watch.
Talent honed by excellent training have made Shijith Nambiar and his stage-cum-life partner Parvathy Menon a coveted Bharatanatyam pair, who have, for the past two or three years, been performing widely. Like minded and sharing stage chemistry, constant practice has brought about spatial adjustments in their moves, a pleasure to watch.
Exploring different angles of movement, juxtaposing adavus, standing at different points on stage and meeting halfway while moving, creating diagonal geometry through hand movements and coverage of floor space, this couple create visual aesthetics. When a couple perform, there are some obvious advantages, of creating changing tones of movement graceful and energetic - the contrast pleasing to the audience. But there is also the danger of resorting to the narrative form and theatrical once too often, and that should be handled with caution.
The different rhythmic combinations in Alarippu after Pushpanjali, given the excellent technique of both performers ending with the Sree Jalandhara lyric composed by Jayachamaraja Wodeyar in Gambhira Nattai, made for a sparkling start. With an evocative vocalist in Arun Gopinath, the Swati Tirunal varnam in Neelambari ‘Sarasara Sundara’ began, after a zestful Karaikudi Krishnamurty Jati, with an expressional exchange of wonderment at the sight of the Lord in all his reclining majesty, at the Thiruvananthapuram shrine.
Thereafter, even while the nritta links had all the punch and visual artistry, more of story telling than interpretation of the sahitya took over the choreography with episodes such as Gajendramoksham and Draupadi being saved from humiliation, with a brief representation of the Dasavataram emerging later. With such skilled dancers, nothing is shoddy or indifferently rendered. But one cannot avoid feeling that artists of this calibre can work more on mastering the interpretative aspect of Bharatanatyam, which is the more challenging part, than narrative. They should also try working more with abstract dance to bring out various aspects.
Certain lyrics lend themselves to a dialogue between two characters as the Surdas Bhajan ‘Tumase Kahan Se Kaho’ with a lilting score by Bombay Jayashree. Charming was the interaction between Krishna and Radha, who is peeved at not only the disapproval from her in-laws, but also at becoming the butt of ridicule from the other gopis because of Krishna openly shows his intimacy with her by holding her hand in front of all the cowherds. Snatching away his flute with vows to have nothing more to do with him, Radha leaves. Seeing a crestfallen Krishna, she relents, for, their bond, as Krishna states, transcends all concerns of mundane living.
Shijith as the young Krishna, uncaring of societal attitudes, and then as the hapless hero and finally as the eternal companion of Radha, and Parvathy as Radha, enacted this lyric with feeling and sensitivity, saving the narrative from becoming self-indulgent.
Gireesh Madhu (nattuvangam), Shiva Prasad (mridangam), Easwar Ramakrishnan (violin), Mahesh Swamy (flute) and Anantakrishnan (veena) provided the right orchestral support.
The duo had the good sense to finish with the Mangalam by cutting out the thillana, unlike some performers who overshot the time given without consideration for the next group performing.