Bharatanatyam’s Marathi flavour

Sucheta Chapekar.  

Intriguing sollus and themes marked veteran artiste Sucheta Chapekar’s Bharatanatyam tribute to vaggeyakara Raja Serfoji II on his 244th birth anniversary. It is likely that the king’s Marathi dance compositions were for the pre-systematised court dance Sadir, that is, before the Thanjavur Quartet modified the training and repertoire.

This assumption was corroborated by Sucheta through her guru Parvati Kumar’s book Tanjavur Nritya Prabandha. She said that the brothers performed their arangetram in Raja Serfoji’s court, but matured as artistes in Raja Sivaji’s court. This explains the use of Nirupanas in Raja Serfoji’s compositions, a set of 18 pieces with the same theme and in the same raga. In 1968, under Parvati Kumar’s tutelage, Sucheta presented 18 of his compositions but taken from different Nirupanas.

Different ragas and talas

Her recent online performance was also a compilation of five pieces in different ragas and talas. ‘... Jaga jaga naga dhiminaga jaganagi, Kirrrra kinajaga kinajaga namtari’ went the sollus in the invocatory Kavuthuvam in praise of Shiva, the presiding deity of Thanjavur. The rhyming lyrics ‘Yavari soduni bheda bhavana, Lavakari bhaja tu Gowri Ramana’ and resonant sollus were brought out beautifully in Sucheta’s vintage Bharatanatyam performance style. Having learnt from guru Kittappa Pillai as well, the choreographies, adapted from Parvati Kumar’s originals, combined her masters’ sensibilities and her own.

In the swarajathi (Pantuvarali, tisra Ata tala) ‘Changa bhanga tu karavuni ghe’ a mature sakhi advises a newly-wed on how to keep her husband happy. The swaras in between the lines were short and melodiously sung by Shivaprasad, who lent soul to the music.

The narrative behind every piece was unusual. The lyrics were in Sanskritised Marathi, with a few Tamil and Persian words. Some compositions had notations, some did not. Janardhan Tanjorkar set each composition to music according to the raga and tala notations mentioned in the manuscripts.

The Jakkini Daru was the most delightful, with sollus, swaras and sahitya. Couched in a folk beat (Sankarabaranam, Adi), it was a fast piece, with jathis and swaras. Little phrases such as ‘Yellilam yellilam le devaadhideva’ reflected the outside influences within the framework of the piece.

Sucheta presented abhinaya in ‘Housesa to mola nahi re’ (Khamas, Adi) and ‘Aji sonyacha Divasa,’ (Ritigowla, Adi), where the former has a sarcastic nayika asking Krishna, ‘There is no limit to enjoyment, you can do what you want. Why this secrecy?’ The latter was a bhakti piece where the protagonist feels her life’s mission is complete after a glimpse of Shiva.

Sucheta’s experience shone in her handling of the pieces. As a researcher and repository of Marathi songs, she has contributed deeply to the understanding of dance literature.

The Chennai-based author writes on classical dance.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 6:06:19 PM |

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