Smita Prakash returns to the stage after 20 years.
There is a shloka (verse) in Sanskrit that says people belonging to the lowest category do not start a thing fearing obstacles that may come in the way, the medium type do start, but leave it the moment some hindrance occurs. The highest category consists of people who never leave what they have taken up even after being obstructed time and again. Smita Prakash belongs to this category. She started learning Bharatanatyam at seven under Guru Jaylakshmi Ishwar of Kalakshetra fame. Marriage, family and work kept her away for nearly 20 years, but that did not deter her and she decided to perform once again when her guru asked her to do so if she really wanted to keep it up.So, after 20 years, Smita performed at the Karnataka Sangh Auditorium this past week. Smita is also a journalist. She has anchored several television news programmes including the popular Hindi News programme "Ghoomta Aainaa", besides international assignments. That she was able to perform a full-fledged Bharatanatyam recital right from pushpanjali to the concluding tillana speaks for her dedication and perseverance.
Floral salutationSmita began her recital with pushpanjali, a floral salutation in raga Nattai set to Adi tala. Next came a Kannada bhajan by Purandara Dasa "Tamboori meetidavan... " in praise of Lord Vitthala set to tisra gati in raga Sindhu Bhairavi. In this the poet prays to the Lord to appear in His supreme form just as He did when Arjun was consumed with self doubt. "Shankar Shri Giri" in raga Hamsanandi set to Adi tala was treated like a varnam, replete with crisp footwork and abhinaya. It had expressional excerpts like the Kama Dahan Prasang against the lyrical background of "Bhasma trinetra gale rundmala" where the all-consuming power of Lord Shiva's third eye reduces Kamadava to ashes. The very first alap of Hamsanandi on the mesmerising flute of Raghuraman created the perfect setting for this number."Krishna nee begane baro... " the popular Kannada bhajan set to raga Yaman Kalyan and Mishra Chapu tala, where mother Yashoda urges her beloved son to come near her, beautifully depicted the vatsalya rasa. But the adbhut could have come in the mother's eyes more effectively when the child Krishna opens his little mouth and she sees all the three worlds inside it. The Udupi Krishna episode came out much better. The Surdas bhajan "Mohe chhuo na... " brought out the agony and rage of a Khandita nayika whose beloved has been romancing with other gopikas, before Krishna convinces her of his love for only her in "Sakhi baavari". This song started in raga Madhuvanti with shades of Kapi (Pilu) in a ragamalika. Smita concluded her recital with a tillana in raga Amritvarshini, set to Adi tala. Guru Jayalakshmi Ishwar herself was there to do the crisp nattuvangam. The rest of the orchestra comprised Vasudevan for vocal support, Thanjavur Keshavan on the mridangam and G. Raghuraman on the flute who gave Smita commendable support. MANJARI SINHA