Kalpatharu depicted a girl’s love for trees.
What can dancers contribute towards the environment? Kalpatharu was an example of a thematic production which sought to highlight the significance of Trees through dance and song. Students of Midhilaya Dance Academy,
Thiruvananthapuram, performed at the Dakshinamurthy auditorium, Mylapore, and wove a story of a simple girl who sets an example of how nature ought to be loved and treasured. Against the splendid sets of the huge Banyan Tree and the idyllic scenery, the story revolved round the daily rhythm of village life.
Though the production was well intentioned, it did have its share of highs and lows. The music that was credited to noted violinist Attukal Balasubramanyan was bright without being unduly heavy. The classical and semi classical shades in music and dance served to keep the atmosphere lively and pastoral. Yet, some sequences where characters were introduced without rationalising their roles loosened the telling of the story. For instance, the lengthy and sudden pure dance sequence for a lone dancer stood out of context. Some sahitya instead of just notes for the whole musical score would have enhanced the dramatic interest.
These points apart, the realistic touches carried off the story successfully. The scene where the rustic farmers who set off to work leaving the baby in a hammock under the branches of the tree was a reminder of gentler times. The romance between a couple of villagers and their rendezvous highlighted the pivotal role of this banyan tree.
The story started in earnest with the introduction of the 16-year old girl who was the apple of her parents’ eye. This lass loves the tree and its shade and treats it like a friend. But the entry of the astrologer and his dire predictions that she is fated to lose her husband causes a dark lining in the otherwise silver cloud. He however suggests that if the girl is first married off to a plantain tree and the tree is chopped down, this calamity could be averted.
But the girl who listens to only a part of the conversation insists that she should be married to her friend the Banyan tree instead. Thus, the chopping down of the tree in accordance with town crier’s announcement comes as a rude shock. (One couldn’t help thinking of the nonchalence with which trees are felled to make room for concrete.)
The girl dons the white garb and forever mourns the loss of the tree. When children come running to play where the Tree once stood, she hands them saplings and teaches them to love trees like friends.
Kalpatharu - composed by V. Mydhili and performed by its troupe of bright dancers was a good quality artistic effort with a message relevant to the greening of the environment.