When the performance of a student reminds you of the vintage videos of the guru, it’s time to announce a new star on the horizon. Uma Namboodripad Sathyanarayanan’s exceeded everyone’s expectations by all means for a morning recital. Dedicating her performance to the memory of sitar maestro Bharat Ratna Pandit Ravi Shankar, she began with a shlokam from Bilvamangala’s Sri Krishna Karnamrutam, ‘Sajala jalada neelam, vallavi keli lolam’, describing the beauty of Lord Krishna. From there she merged into a fascinating alarippu composed in Pushpalatika by her guru Chitra Visweswaran. This particular piece depicted Chitra’s scholarship and mastery over the subject. Cleverly interspersing words from the keertana, intertwined with the pure nritta hastas of the alarippu, the composition was an intelligent adaptation in Tishra Ekam.
While the composition came across as a simple one set to one nadai (gait), details will reveal the amount of practice it takes to carry off what Uma did.
Continuing into the main item, Uma performed the famous Kambhoji pada varnam ‘Nathanai azhaittuva sakhi’. Expounding the tale of the nayika expressing her desire for the lord by sending an emissary to cajole him, seeking his attention, unable to bear the pangs of separation, Uma depicted viraham with much involvement and expressive gesturing. Her nritta sequences to the intricate jatis rendered by Sukanya got the house down in a thunderous applause several times.
As Murali Parthasarathy unleashed into an elaborate Kambhoji, it was a hefty breakfast buffet for rasikas at Krishna Gana Sabha. One didn’t know if they had to close their eyes and listen to his crystal clear voice or concentrate on Uma’s spectacular performance.
When the musician and the dancer compliment each other’s talent, rasikas benefit the best.
Her next piece made for an ideal dessert. Performing abhinaya to the famous Purandara Dasa kriti ‘Jagadodharana’, one forgot it was Uma on stage. The range of emotions expressed out-did her aptitude from the last piece. All one saw was Yashodha’s motherly love for Krishna till the lights came on. And the atmosphere lingered through the tillana. Kudos to guru Chitra for her mentorship and fine training!
An excellent and underrated singer on the dance scene, Uma is easily one of the super-talented youngsters we have around in today’s Bharatanatyam brigade.
(Veejay Sai is a writer, editor and a culture critic)