An evening of scintillating Odissi performances

Guru Ratikant Mohapatra and Sujata Mohapatra impressed with their immersive performance at Antardrishti

Updated - January 18, 2019 04:28 pm IST

Published - January 18, 2019 01:33 am IST

Fascinating coordination: Guru Ratikant Mohapatra and Sujata Mohapatra as Ram and Bali

Fascinating coordination: Guru Ratikant Mohapatra and Sujata Mohapatra as Ram and Bali

After a gap of several years, Srjan, Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Odissi Nrityabasa from Bhubaneswar, brought to Kolkata an exclusive evening of scintillating Odissi performances. The occasion was to celebrate the 93rd birth anniversary of the legendary Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. The programme in collaboration with UNC Charlotte, Department of Dance, USA, mounted at Uttam Mancha, offered three solo recitals - composed by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra - in the first part by dancers in order of increasing seniority, followed by a deeply emotive and gripping mythological dance-drama “Bali Badha” (slaying of the Monkey King Bali) from the “Kishkindha Kanda” of the Ramayana.

The evening opened with ”Ardhanareeswar” by Ustad Bismillah Khan Purashkar Awardee, Rajashree Praharaj, a senior disciple of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. The petite dancer has already established herself as a competent teacher and an excellent performer. She excelled in the elegant composition set to Laxmikant Palit’s music in Raag Mallika, Taal Malika, exhibiting with ease, a fine balance of tandava and lasya while infusing the entire presentation with an insightful interpretation of the spirit of the stotram. This earned her a special designation.

Especially admirable were the “Parshwashuktimandala” and bhramaris in the lines “Mandaramala Kalitaalakayai” and “Prapanchashrustyun Mukhalasyakayai”. Bhakta poet Salabeg’s famous composition, “Ahe Neela Shailo”, a popular abhinaya in raga Arabhi, taal jati was presented with sensitivity and understanding by Guru Ratikant’s student Kaustavi Sarkar.

A well-trained dancer Kaustavi , now a faculty and the collaborator of “Antardrishti”, stood out for her fine abhinaya with skilful combination of Nritya using her expressive eyes to an advantage. The Draupadi’s Chirharan and the Prahlad-Hiranyakashipu episodes were highly evocative and received well by the audience. It was heartening to watch young Prachi Hota from Delhi perform Saveri Pallavi, a pure dance in Ektali, raag saveri and confidently share the stage with seasoned dancers. She was able to grip the rhythmic variations that the Nritta demanded and gave a reasonably good account of herself.

The piece-de-resistance of Antardrishti was the three-character “Bali Badha” based on Tulsidas’ Ramcharitmanas by leading Odissi dancers of the country. The dance-drama began with the prologue “Sri Ramanamamritam”, a “Ram Bandana” in classical Odissi by Rajashree Praharaj, and moved on to the backdrop of Kishkindha forest where Ram and Lakshman were hunting for Sita with the help of Sugriva and Hanuman.

Wonderful dramaturgy

The production boasts of brilliant dancing, marvellous abhinaya and wonderful dramaturgy without props and character costumes-a striking and successful signature feature of the choreographer, dancer and ace mardala player Guru Ratikant Mohapatra. The dramatisation of the narrative was set to Laxmikant Pali’s music and was predominantly linear and the ambivalence between drama and theatre overpowered that of classical Odissi.

Nevertheless, the classicism and texture of Odissi movements were intelligently interwoven into the choreographic framework while focussing attention and understanding the special qualities of the individual dancers.

Sujata Mohapatra as the dignified Ram danced majestically with her stunning poised authority, providing the production few moments of meaningful exchange with Sugriv and Bali.

Rajib Bhattacharya, a seasoned dancer could not have been a better choice for Sugriv for his dexterity in portraying myriad emotions apart from his understanding of the dance form and bringing glow to his refined execution. But the rare moments of the production (which are also memorable) are attributed to Ratikant both as the outrageous king Bali and the questioning , repenting and dying one, coalescing his technical precision with the aesthetic contents creating his own idiom of soul-stirring performance.

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