Natya The elaborations of Krishna's leelas by Padma Subrahamanyam and the students of Nrithyodaya were performed with reverence. Rupa Srikanth

D rawing on the divinity and lyricism in saint-poet Oothukkadu Venkata Subbaiyar's compositions, ‘Jai Sri Krishna,' presented by Padma Subrahmanyam and the Nrithyodaya artists, was a colourful spectacle of song and dance.

Compilation and choreography was by the researcher-dancer Padma, who shared details about the pre-trinity composer's works and appealed for help in the restoration of the dilapidated Kalinga Narthana temple in Oothukadu.

‘Jai Sri Krishna' was not so much a Bharatanrithyam performance as it was a visual projection of devotional lyrics on Krishna. Many songs in the repertoire were descriptive or plainly devotional, yet the show did not feel repetitive because each piece was given its own character and treatment.

Superb orchestra

The bhava-laden music also made the difference. The melodious, sweet-voiced singer-nattuvanar Dr. Gayathri Kannan along with a not-so-consistent Radhika Muthukrishnan, a proactive Kannan (veena) who used the plucking technique to good effect, excellent musicians T.S. Babu (violin), C.K. Patanjali (flute) and K.S. Sudhaman (mridangam) were part of the orchestra.

Some presentations went beyond mere vibrancy. One was the profound ‘Pullaai Piravi Tharavendum' (Navroj, Adi) where the poet expresses his desire to be born as a blade of grass in Brindavan, so Krishna's feet will touch him, but changes his mind and says since the life of a blade of grass is too short, he wants to be born a stone in Brindavan.

Padma's style of interpretation is a mixture of irreverent humour and lokadharmi (realistic) that may fall flat in a lesser artist but in her case, it conveys rare warmth. ‘Maragatamanimaya Chela' (Arabhi, Adi) with the elaborations of Krishna's leelas such as the Gajendra, Sudhama and Draupadi episodes was however an exception and performed with a sense of reverence.

While Padma's abhinaya is so realistic, her nritta does not even pretend to be so. With some semblance of footwork, it was only her vibrant eyes and graceful wrists that respond to the sollus! Perhaps the jatis are there in her solos only for dramatic relief.

Another memorable piece was the ‘Thaye Yashoda' (Thodi, Adi) and ‘Sonnadhai Kel Kanna' (Pantuvarali, Adi) combination, where one got to see the other side - a protective Yashoda who believes her child can do no wrong. Again, the dance drama format that robs the dance style of any suggestiveness is tricky, but the natural role-play and the good pace saved the day. Shyamakrishnan as the naughty child, played the part with remarkable involvement.

The group consisting of Mahati Kannan, Swathi, Aparna, Neeraja, Niveditha Arjun, Ramya and Srinidhi added lustre with well-coordinated movements.