The dance drama earned points for good choreography and skilled presentation.
Photo: K. Gajendran
WELL-MADE SHOW The Prahalada episode was a brilliant piece of artistry.
Competent choreography is the hallmark of this Kuchipudi ballet Bhagavad Gita, an otherwise singularly sombre theme in terms of dance. In Bhagavatula Sethuram's (choreographer) hands, it attained a vivid and varying dimension striking a balance between visual art and profound aphorism.
Interspersing the tenets of the Gita as propounded by Lord Krishna to Arjuna on the battlefield (Mahabharata), with illustrations from the Bhagavata moulded to the dance medium, Sethuram was able to maintain the tempo of the dance drama from start to end. The Prahalada episode was a brilliant piece of artistry with the macabre manifestation of Narasimha (man-lion) to the flashing light and sound from behind a make-believe pillar.
In contrast to this jolting scene, was the esoteric romance of the gopis and Krishna (Raasaleela), dancing to melodious swaram all through. Kuchelopakyanam (Maanitha guna sheela dayaala... ) covered the gamut of the child Krishna's deceptive pranks that had deeper connotations as Kuchela was able to bring out the humility and devotion so typical of the character.
The swift delineation of the Dasavatharas by the group dancers to the tune of Sambhavami yuge yuge through mime alone were some of the outstanding scenes.
Rich and meaningful verses from the Gita (first in Sanskrit and then in Telugu) were translated into aesthetic visuals that underlined the message without sermonising.
The third person narration by a group of dancers who intercepted the scenes served to further enrich the flow of the theme. The reiteration of the three gunas satva, rajas and taamasic by the group, followed by the Ksheerasagara madanam (recreated on stage with illusory sparks and special percussion effects), the yogi and the enchantress (Yela ee vela) served as imagery used to interpret the terse statements of spiritual truth. The Vishwaroopa darshan looked natural with special effects to augment Arjuna's state of mind at the sight of the divine.
The male dancers, in particular, Kranti Kumar and Mohan Reddy, gave the women dancers a run when it came to deft footwork, stance and speed.
Aparna as Prahalada and Kranti Kumar as Sudhama and later Hiranyakashyapa were perhaps the best performers. Mohan Reddy as Krishna (in Raasa Leela scene) and also Narsimha looked convincing in both roles. He proved to be an agile dancer too especially as Krishna with gopis.
Madhavi Mala as Krishna and Rohini Prasad as Arjuna got diminished in the significant sloka rendition and exposition in Telugu a rare case of artiste being overtaken by the vocalist and lyrics. Both artistes need to internalise their respective roles if they are to emerge as powerful as the verses of the Gita. The ahaarya was in keeping with the times. Stage settings were subdued and apt.
Presented under the aegis of the Chaitanya Art Theatres at Ravindra Bharathi, Bhagavad Gita had brilliant nattuvangam by Sethuram, mridangam by Nageswara Rao with special effects and percussion by Sridharachary. Good vocalists like Amalapuram Kanna Rao and Sharada Reddy should be able to control the mike volume, which rendered their tones to near screams. Radha on the veena hardly made a dent. Subbalakshmi on the violin, Dattatreya on the bamboo and Brahmanandam on the keyboard were good assets.
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