Dance homage to the Mahatma

Dancers at ‘Mahatma Nrityanjali’, an event organised in Mumbai to pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi

Dancers at ‘Mahatma Nrityanjali’, an event organised in Mumbai to pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Gandhiji’s life and message were conveyed by 150 students under the baton of Guru Kalyanasundaram Pillai

‘Mahatma Nrityanjali’ conceived and choreographed by doyen K. Kalyanasundaram commemorated the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. As many as 150 dancers, dressed in traditional attire, bejewelled and bright, all students of Sri Rajarajeswari Bharathanatya Kala Mandir, Mumbai, filled the huge stage. Hosted by Shanmukhananda Fine Arts and Sangeetha Sabha in Mumbai, the evening began on a spiritual note with students of Veda Patasala, Nerul and SIES choir, chanting mantras, singing sarva dharma prayer with Abhilasha Gautam capping it all with melodious ‘Vaishnava Janato’.

The question raised by the anchor Gayatri was whether Gandhi is relevant today, going beyond the biographical and watershed moments of the freedom movement. V. Shankar, president of the sabha said that this invocation of the spirit of Mahatma on the sesquicentennial celebration, is a milestone in the history of independent India. “A mix of courage and compassion, Bapu touched lives in so many ways. He redefined brotherhood and showed that political authority was a tool of service. We owe it to him to carry forward his idealsand begin a Gandhian era,” he said underlining that Gandhi and his ideals were relevant at all times.

The chief guest, Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Governor of Maharashtra, Dr. Anand Gokani, great-grandson of Gandhi and guru Kalyanasundaram were felicitated by V. Shankar.

Governor of Maharashtra Bhagat Singh Koshyari addressing the audience at an event, Mahatma Nrityanjali, organised in Mumbai to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi

Governor of Maharashtra Bhagat Singh Koshyari addressing the audience at an event, Mahatma Nrityanjali, organised in Mumbai to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“Gandhiji’s courage distinguished him. He used ahimsa as the humble path to reach the truth. Like the ripple effect, he impacted the country and world at large,” observed Dr. Gokani. The Governor advocated the principle of cleanliness, which was dear to Gandhiji. He added that we should learn the best from all countries but retain the Indian core values. “Artificial Intelligence is the theme today but India has Aadhyatmik Intelligence,” he said. Dr. V. Rangaraj, from the Sabha committee, proposed a vote of thanks.

The well-choreographed dance repertoire was based on devotional songs in Sanskrit, Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil and Bengali, spanning the Indian panorama, a true homage to the Father of the Nation. The presentation opened with the voice of Gandhiji that said that there was a power, which ruled our lives. God is life, love and truth. The chants of ‘Gandhi namam vazhgave’, followed by hymns propitiating Ganesa and Saraswati, were presented through simple hand gestures by little girls. Bharathiyar’s ‘Vazhga Nee Emman’ was picturesque with scenes of village and farming activities.

‘Shree Ramachandra Kripalu’ in ragamalika incorporated Sita Swayamvar and the Soorpanaka episode. The choreography was communicative and concise, the end pose of Rama and Sita pleasing, the chant of Hey Ram adding to the emotional quotient.

‘Hari Tum Haro,’ the favourite bhajan of Gandhi came next. The unshakable faith of Draupadi on Krishna was the role played by Shruti Natanakumar with Kanakavalli Santhanam as Dushasan. In the ‘Gajendra Moksham’ segment, Bharathi Murthy changed roles quickly to Gajendra, the crocodile and Vishnu. ‘Jithe Jato,’ Sant Tukaram’s bhajan was steeped in devotion. The increased pace in the end was interesting.

Desika Vinayagam Pillai’s ‘Aadu Ratte’ had eight dancers, who moved with perfect coordination. Bharathi stood up explaining the tenets behind the iconic spinning wheel, through abhinaya and the others followed suit. The variations in the rhythm patterns added vigour.

‘Jibon jakhon’, the poem Tagore sang to Gandhi at the Yerawada jail, set to dance, conveyed the connect between the Kavi and the Karmayogi. ‘Vaishnava Janato,’ the popular devotional bhajan by Narsinh Mehta came as the fitting finale. The ‘parastree’ and ‘moha maya’ were shown through eve-teasing and drinking. An emotionally moved octogenarian guru K. Kalyanasundaram joined in the singing that epitomised his deep commitment.

Vidya Harikrishna and Sheetal Subramanian were the vocal artistes who added melody to the nattuvangam by Guru Kalyanasundaram, Vasant Kumar and Harikrishna. The chant of ‘Raghupati Raghava’ denoted harmony among the 12 dancers split into two groups.

The vocal modulation between high and low octaves was well handled. Dancers clad in regional attires walked up the stage, highlighting diversity. Anecdotes from Gandhi’s life were projected through audio-video clippings. Snap shots from locations such as the Wardha Ashram, the brisk gait of the 61-year old Gandhi during the Dandi March and Gandhi’s sense of humour made for absorbed viewing.

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 11:04:23 PM |

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