Ballet Sobha Naidu and her group presented an impressive conceptual Kuchipudi drama. GUDIPOODI SRIHARI
One of the principles of Kuchipudi says that a concert should commence with ‘Nata’ and end with ‘Surati’. Jagadanandakaaraka , a Ghanaraga Pancharatna kirtana, is a Nata number of Thyagaraja that renowned Kuchipudi exponent Sobha Naidu used it as a title for her new ballet. Choosing this pallavi line for the title of her ballet was a master stroke.
The ballet presented at Ravindra Bharati last week was a recount of Ramayana. One gets to see the structure more as capsule of Thyagaraja Ramayanam, with the theme set in sequential form from Rama’s birth to his coronation after his return with Sita after annihilating Ravana. In the case of dance dramas of this magnitude, nritta part with jatis and other technical presentation take a back seat. Sobha Naidu as its presenter, choreographer and actor donning prime role of Srirama had sensibly avoided them. It was indeed a mammoth production lasting for two hours.
Srirama’s theme was coined out of charanas from about 30 kirtanas of Thyagaraja, giving a comprehensive picture of Ramayana. A few verses from ‘Molla Ramayanam’ and of Jandhyala Papayya Sastry were sprinkled across the text. Sri Raghukulamandu in Hamsadhawani suited initial part of Rama’s birth, Sogasuchooda Tarama in Kannadagowla depicted childhood of Srirama, Samajavaragamana in Hindolam was used for ‘Yagna Rakshana’, from onslaught of demons; Sriramapadama in Amrutavahini for Ahalya Sapavimochanam, Yentha Nerchina Yentajoosina in Udayaravichandrika, mirrored Ravana’s lust in ‘Sitapaharanam’ scene and Entani Ne Varninthunu in Mukhari suited Sabari sequence. It was presented to pre-recorded music with voices of Manda Krishnamohan and Swetha rendering verses and Mahankali Mohan providing nattuvangam.
This being anniversary celebration, there were a hundred students — all of them seen in the last scene of mangalam.
Violin by Kolanka Saikumar, Flute by Nagaraju, Veena by Meduri Srinivas and Keyboard by Brahmanandam –all stalwarts in their respective fields -were in the ensemble. The play being mythical, the service rendered by Surabhi technicians, led by Poornachander was praiseworthy.
This presentation needed a large number of artistes, about 30 , some playing multiple roles. Sobha Naidu as Srirama was a big draw. Nitya as Sita, Sujata as Lakshmana, Ajay Srinivas as Ravana, Usha as Dasaratha, Surendranath as Anjaneya, Vijaya as Sabari and host of other dancers in smaller roles displayed their dancing skills and narrative ability. Ayodhya, Aranya, Kishkinda and Yudha kandas captured right emotions enjoyed by the audience. Sobha Naidu’s choreography was such that thematic element was never lost.