Smitha Madhav's performance of `Ragam Raghavam' had the audience enjoying the recital.
The penultimate programme in the Sri Rama Navami Celebrations held at Keyes High School, Secunderabad, was a solo dance performance by Smitha Madhav. Twenty one-year-old Smitha has gained popularity both as a Bharatanatyam dancer and a classical music singer. Thanks to her guru Rajeswari, who tutored her for well over 13 years. Smitha now follows the famous Pandanallur style and her performances are marked by classicism, aesthetics and arealso impeccable. The day's programme, Ragam raghavam, told the story of Ramayana. Selected works ranging from Valmiki to Arunachala Kavirayar, Thyagaraja to Annamacharya, Kambhar to Sadasiva Brahmendra, the story, well known to the audience, has been woven into the fabric of this thematic presentation. The recital had too many episodes crammed into a short time and there was very little or no link from one episode to the other. Add to this, endless characters in the story of Ramayana wedging their way to make their appearance in the two-hour programme virtually ended up in bewilderment. Bharatanatyam has its set norms, code, discipline and classicism. It has two basic but essential regulations. Abhinaya expresses the feeling for form and rhythmic configuration but grace is equally important. Extreme care should be exercised to safeguard these two vital values, not to mention the sanctity and resourcefulness of this art. Smitha, wittingly or unwittingly, relegated these facts to discomfiture. Moving too much on the stage is yet another defect with contemporary artistes; the mode naturally deprives the opportunity for abhinaya. The well-set pantha and richly honoured tradition in framing a more meaningful programme could have been chosen to project the ancient art. What happened to allaripu, varnam, javali, padam, thillana etc., the essential components of Bharatanatyam? To the credit of Smitha, it must be acknowledged that she has excellent talent, confidence, glamour, delicacy and stamina, which can make her an outstanding artiste. All in all, the large gathering enjoyed the programme from the beginning to the end. The nattuvangam by guru Rajeswari compelled admiration. A seasoned guru under Karaikkudi Mani has creativity, which was repeatedly reflected in the excellent koruvais in the nattuvangam and the mode of its presentation. B.R.C. IYENGAR