Theatre, dance and music combined in this abstract presentation.
‘Music is a metaphor for life’ thus said the handout of Samarasya, a recent theatrical presentation on music by T.M. Krishna. Indeed, a wise comparison because music can express all emotions and colors of a human life. The theatrical presentation on the stage at Sir Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall as a fund raising programme for Seva Sadan was more like a modern play.
A dancing couple with subtle movements introduced the programme starting with the creation of the universe and the genesis of the Vedas. The curtain went up to reveal a group of young dhoti-clad men and they recited the Vedas, the origin of nadha. Injikkudi E.M. Subramanian followed this with a regal mallary in Gambhira Nattai on the nagaswaram and towards the end Krishna joined.
Krishna took up ‘Nada tanum Anisam’ (Tyagaraja, Chitta Ranjani) complemented by Subramanian on the nadaswaram; in the finale both exchanged lively swara sallies.
For the second part, the couple emerged once again to talk on Sakti, the power, the protector and annihilator of the bad and how all of them were rolled in one. They extended it to the power of music and this preface was followed by a dual between Krishna and E. Gayathri on the veena.
Gayathri played thanam in a variety of ragas starting with Purvikalyani in the mandra sthayi, shifted to Sama in the madhyama region picked up by in Krishna in Kanada, Khambodi and the exchanges extended with changing of ragas in quick succession. It culminated in ‘Anandamrutha sagaram’ in Khamas composed by violinist R.K. Shriram Kumar.
The next segment witnessed a discussion hinged on the presence of duality in everything – touching on the aspect of Mohini and how Vishnu enticed even Siva in that form and how every man had the Mohini element in him. The dual elements are inseparable as laya and nadha it was argued. A pallavi presentation by Krishna in Saveri with a full-fledged thani avartanam support from K. Arun Prakash (mridangam), N. Guruprasad (ghatam), Anirudh Athreya (ganjira) and Krishna himself on the konnakkol towards the grand climax.
The final session saw the narrators speaking of a Chinese parable on love and war where the good and the bad agree to keep the human lives happy with changing seasons. What followed was surprisingly a concert format but Krishna made a medley of ‘Akshaya linga vibo’ of Dikshitar in Sankarabharanam and ‘Janani Ninnuvina’ in Ritigowla by Subbaraya Sastri supported on the violin by R.K. Shriram Kumar. It was meant to highlight the metaphor of Siva-Sakti union, Man in Woman and the coexistence of such dualities.
In his concluding remarks, Krishna informed that he had been pondering over the concept of ‘Samarasya’ through which he wanted to share that the directly opposite characters exist in each one of us. Light and Dark, Man and Woman, Siva and Mohini, Music and Laya and so on.
Well, the duality concept came across through abstract rhetoric. Most of the time, the prelude and the content could only be related by a nebulous link. Even the coexistence of the two diametrically opposing character came through not too powerfully in the compositions. The artists being seasoned performed their part quite well. But will that suffice?
The trend is to visualise and present something fresh, different and novel. Experiments on these lines may create ripples but not revolutions. Krishna’s conventional kutcheris are a lot more vibrant, dynamic and colourful than his new found abstract idiom.
The stage décor and the flashing and changing colours like crimson, orange, monochrome and azure created great visual impact. The sound system was fairly subdued and balanced. Scripted by Sunanda Ragunathan and directed by V. Balakrishnan, the cast included Varun Iyer, Alicia Prarthana, Stephen and Sunananda Ragunathan.