At Bharat Kalachar: The angst of Devaki and pride of Yasodha were captured well.
A fantastic range of emotions, traditional music and the unique timbre of the Sanskrit language were the highpoints of ‘Krishna Leela Tarangini’ presented by senior dancer-teacher Roja Kannan. The rhythm of her feisty dancing ensured that episodes in the early life of Krishna were conveyed as colourful visuals full of vigour and joy for Bharat Kalachar’s 26th Margazhi Mahotsav.
Narayana Theertha’s opera is a much loved one and is seen as much on platforms disseminating bhakti as in classical dance and music performances. Roja’s interpretation brought in the human side of the story where one could see not just the ‘putra viraha’ or the angst for the infant felt by the parents Devaki and Vasudeva but also the awe of Yasodha and the glee of the incorrigible child who steals fresh butter. Yet it was not just the characterisation that attracted the audience.
Premiered in 2003, this production has been staged 25 times and a complete absorption of the theme and all its parts by the artist became the presentation’s biggest asset.
The evening’s superior parts followed when sentiments and pure dance flowed as one with the music. The discernible, though fleeting, moments of rhythmic discordance in the ‘Hari Meedey’ segment were before long outweighed by the dancer’s grasp of the main picture. Yasodha’s maternal pride and her love were robust depictions that stood out for effect. One could also appreciate the choreography for bringing forth two instances of the Lord bestowing the divine vision on his mother and earlier on King Mahabali during Vamana Avatar.
The combined team of vocalist Hariprasad, Saranya (disciple of the dancer) performing nattuvangam, the ever-energetic Kannan on the mridangam and the melodious strains of flautist Sashidhar and Eshwar Ramakrishnan added to the devotional atmosphere created by the dancing. Hariprasad’s involved rendering reflected his empathy of the Sanskrit verses. The flow of ragas such as Kedaragowla, Sankarabharanam and Malayamarutham wrought a rich aural pattern.
Had not the second part of the performance been curtailed due to rain, the audience would have been treated to the portrayals of more episodes. As it was they had to be content with their suggestive illustration in the Khamas Thillana.