Thematic ‘Pennmai Chudar' impressed with its detailed content, co-ordination and narration. Rupa Srikanth

K ala Pradarshini, a Centre for Performing Arts and Cultural Activities, established by senior dancer Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala, premiered ‘Pennmai Chudar,' a thematic Bharatanatyam dance-drama at the Brahma Gana Sabha this season.

It celebrated the lives of five extraordinary women such as Sita (patience), Andal (perseverance), Manimekalai (charity), Avvaiyar (intellect) and Keladi Chennamma (valour).

It had been conceptualised, penned and composed by Kalpakkam Srinivasamurti, recorded by the artists (Hariprasad-vocal, R. Suresh-percussion, Parvathi-nattuvangam, Srinivasan-flute, M.S. Kannan-violin, Padmini-veena, Venkatasubramaniam-keyboard) and choreographed by Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala with guidance from P.V. Venkatasubramaniam. The dancers were Parvathi, Shivakumar, Shanmugasundaram, Bhavajan, Divya Prabhakar, Shravani, Namrata, Deepalakshmi, Shavanee, Yuvasri, Preethi, Vallabhi, Tejeswini and Akshatha.

It was a well-researched and well-rehearsed effort. ‘Pennmai Chudar' scored in the detailed content, co-ordination and narration (Kalyani Rajaraman and Nandhitha Ramesh). The visualisation, however, oscillated between the vibrant, straightforward and downright unimaginative.

Group dance

The best moments were in the vibrant group dances composed by dancer Shivakumar, like the rakshasis' dance in the Sita episode, the pleasant jathi interludes in the Andal episode and the dance of the sea in the Manimekalai episode. Some episodes had narrators who merged with the group choreographies flawlessly.

Hanuman growing bigger to convince Sita of his genuineness, the transition from the child Andal and the Krishna statue to a grown-up Andal and a real Krishna and the visualisation of the chariot with Chennamma in the war scene were some of the arresting images. Baby Sahana as the deer, a young Andal and the child learning Avvaiyar's ‘Aati Choodi' maxims were assets to the picture.

While Andal's episode was the best in terms of merging dance and drama, the Manimekalai episode was the richest in terms of the musical score. But the dramatic part on the whole, though clear, was prosaic and uninspiring in many places - like in the Avvaiyar episode where it was only drama and no dance. Sita's melancholy and Chennamma's role play were too melodramatic to be artistic.