Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award festival:A celebration of diversity in arts

The festival was a fine blend of styles in music and dance

September 30, 2021 05:50 pm | Updated 05:50 pm IST

Sharmila Mukherjee.

Sharmila Mukherjee.

Srjan, Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Odissi Nrityabasa, Bhubaneshwar, which has been regularly promoting Odissi, hosted a virtual 27th edition of the OMC Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award Festival, dedicated to Laxmipriya Mohapatra, the first woman Odissi dancer, who passed away in March this year.

The governor of Odisha, Prof. Ganeshi Lal, presented the award to veteran actor Binodini Devi for her commitment to the field of theatre. The Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Yuva Pratibha Samman was given to Odissi dancer Arushi Mudgal and mardal artiste Ramchandra Behra.

The five-day festival, curated by Ratikant Mohapatra, showcased a classical dance and music performance each evening.

Odissi exponent Sharmila Mukherjee, a disciple of Kelucharan Mohapatra, opened the festival with a performance marked by the signature style of her guru. It was followed by a violin recital by Sangeeta Shankar, daughter and disciple of Dr. N. Rajam.

Moving abhinaya

Invoking the blessings of Jagannatha and Saraswati through Mangalacharan, composed and sung by Debashish Sircar, Sharmila proceeded to ‘Visaarini’, exploring the visual imagery of raag Darbari through her own choreography, before depicting the mental agony of a Khandita Nayika through her moving abhinaya in Jayadeva’s Ashtapadi ‘Yahi Madhava yahi Keshava’, the original choreography of her guru with music by Bhuvaneshwar Mishra rendered rivetingly by Debashish. The melodious music was enhanced also by Satchidananda Das on the mardal, Srinivas Satpathy on the flute, Agnimitra Behera on the violin, and Chandrachoor Bhattacharya on the sitar.

Soulful rendition

This was followed by the timely raag Abhogi, rendered soulfully on the violin by Sangeeta Shankar, who opened with a brief auchar (introductory alap) in the Bada Khayal format of Hindustani classical, exploring the deepest reaches of the pensive raag through her imaginative badhat and behelawa of the slow composition set to Vilambit Ektaal and intricate taans in Drut Teentaal composition in the gayaki ang. The climax came as a contrast, with a jet-speed jhala in tantrakari ang. Sangeeta concluded her performance with a bandishi thumri in Khamaj, ably accompanied on the tabla by Ajit Pathak.

Kathak by Nikkita Banawalikar was among the remarkable solo dance performances. Groomed under the watchful eyes of guru Shama Bhate, Nikkita has total command on nrittang, the tala-paksha with rhythmic pieces and crisp footwork concluding with ‘aavartan,’ with 33 pirouettes presented with precision and elan. Her subtle abhinaya on thumri Khamaj, ‘Kahe rokat dagar’, composed by Bindadin Maharaj, was also commendable. Nikkita was ably accompanied on the tabla by Tanay Rege, with vocal support by Aditya Apte, and lehera on the harmonium by Omkar Agnihotri.

The vibrant Sattriya by Anvesha Mohanta and Bharatanatyam by Amita Mallick had their own signature charm. Amita’s Ambika pallavi from Lalitha Sahasranamam in praise of Devi, based on raag Tilang and Adi tala, was followed by ‘Krishna Anubhavam’ in ragamalika (Adi tala), presenting the majestic nature of Krishna. Then came the ‘Shiva-Shambho’ in Revathi concluding with the Tulasidas Bhajan ‘Thumak chalat Ramchandra…’ in Yamuna Kalyani Adi (Tisra Nadai). Amita impressed with her clean lines and abhinaya.

Mature approach

Hindustani vocalist Manjusha Patil left the audience mesmerised with her maturity in the measured rendering of raag Nand with the traditional slow and medium tempo compositions, bringing out every nuance and giving the raag the attention it deserved.

The flute recital by Abhiram Nanda, initiated into music by Pt. Mohinimohan Patnaik and further groomed under Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasia at his Brindavan Gurukul in Bhubaneshwar, will be remembered for a melodious Madhuvanti. Accompanied on the tabla by Biswaranjan Nanda, Abhiram delighted with his tunefulness till the concluding Dhun in Pahadi.

Rupak Kumar Parida is one of the most sought-after and versatile Odissi singers today. His pleasing voice and perfect sense of rhythm pervaded the medley of beautiful songs in a variety of raags and taals. There were compositions by Gopal Krishna Patnaik, Jayadeva’s Ashtapadi composed by Raghunath Panigrahi in Bihag, and Odia songs including ‘Sa-Champu’ in Simhendramadhyam.

The speciality of Champu is that each line opens with the same letter, in this case, ‘Sa’. Rupak was ably accompanied on the mardal by Satchidanand Das and on the harmonium by Muralidhar Swain. The finale saw neo-classical performances in Odissi conceptualised and choreographed by Ratikant Mohapatra and presented by the Srjan Ensemble. Opening with an invocation to Ganesha, they performed Parameshwari pallavi, and what was called an experimental piece titled, ‘Shiva Shangsanam’, with a novel style of execution. Pushing the boundaries of Odissi, envisioned by Srjan’s founder Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, they also presented ‘Maati’, based on the poetic works of Radha Mohan Gadanayak.

The Delhi-based author writes on Classical music.

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