The performance of Jaikishore Mosilakanti and groups reflected the genius of Vempati Chinna Satyam.
In the past couple of years, Andhra Pradesh has become poorer culturally what with three of its world famous cultural ambassadors of dance -- Nataraja Ramakrishna, Vempati Chinna Satyam and Vedantam Satyanarayana Sharma – passing away. Among them, Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam was synonymous with Kuchipudi. Having groomed countless students, Vempati left behind an undeniable legacy unlike no other Kuchipudi guru. It is from this rich legacy that Jaikishore Mosalikanti hails. As the lines ‘Gurum Tamo Haram, Sakala Gyaana Karam’ opened the show, Jaikishore’s well-executed choreographic talent came across as impressive. Composed as a tribute to guru Vempati by scholar-commentator Dr. Pappu Venugopala Rao, this Pushpanjali showed snippets from the guru’s life and art. From conducting their daily classes to constantly correcting each and every student to perfection, this seemed like an excellent tribute to the great maestro whose portrait adorned the stage corner.
While Jaikishore’s visualisation was refreshing, what shone through was the scholarship and vidwat of Dr. Pappu Venugopala Rao. From there to Tyagaraja’s ‘Ksheera Sagara Sayanam,’ Kishore’s solo reflected his guru’s expert choreography. Depicting episodes such as ‘Draupadi Vastraapaharanam,’ ‘Gajendra Moksham’ and ‘Sita Apaharanam,’ one couldn’t help but wonder how much work the guru put into the art form in a time and era when no one could think Kuchipudi could inculcate all this. While Kishore was undoubtedly good, it would have been better as a group show, given the amount of creative canvas that could be explored with so many sancharis.
At some point, the veena began droning like a guitar, thanks to the over-amplification.
The next piece titled ‘Sphoorthi’ or inspiration was the main item. Opening with a slokam, once again a composition of Dr Pappu Venugopala Rao in Ragam Lavangi, it continued into Dr. Balamuralikrishna’s famous composition on the Devi ‘Amma Anandadaayini’ in Gambira Nattai. Four students -- Shobha Korambil, Keiko Watanabe, Padmavathi Mosalikanti and Amrita Lahiri – showcased pure nritta sequences and followed it up with the signature tarangam style of brass plates; this item was a genuine effort presented with originality. Though a bit slow and bogged with repetitive sequences, it worked perfectly as a varnam.
Finely executed into a concluding frieze of the various incarnations of the goddess, the varnam continued into a complicated thillana in Kalyani, yet another composition of Dr. Balamuralikrishna.
Exploring the technique of changing scales within the raga in tayamalika style and blending Sankarabharanam, Hindolam, Mohanam and Darbari Kanada and returning into the main body of the composition, this is certainly a challenge for dance choreography. Jaikishore’s talent came forth in the last two sequences and he proved a worthy sishya.