Dance

Shreyasi Gopinath pulls off her solo performance with aplomb

Poignant theme: Shreyasi Gopinath in performance

Poignant theme: Shreyasi Gopinath in performance   | Photo Credit: Inni Singh

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In a solo-Bharatanatyam presentation, Shreyasi Gopinath captures the pain of Karna’s grief-striken wife

Danseuse Shreyasi Gopinath in her maiden production, elucidated the character of the most attractive persona of Mahabharat, viz, Karna through the eyes of his royal wife Uruvi (princess of Pu-Keya). Not that we got anything extraordinary than what we know through Mahabharat, but what was a little novel was the mention of Karna’s wife, Urvi who is shown as a woman of substance in those times too. A solo Bharatanatyam presentation set to Sanskrit song and verse with English inputs to reach out to a cross-section of audience, was creditable.

The theme runs on flashback technique beginning at the battlefield where Uruvi cups her slain husband’s face in her hands and vents out her anger against Kunti, his biological mother, who is blamed for keeping Karna’s identity under wraps.

Kunti’s portrayal

Shreyasi acted out the grief-stricken Urmi with aplomb. From here the artiste took us to Karna’s birth, which means the story of Kunti in her father’s royal household, through a series of footwork patterns (jatis). Kunti was a joyous princess serving rishi Durvasa who is a visitor to her father’s palace as was the custom those days. The tale is what we already know about Karna being born through Surya (sun) mantra bestowed on princess Kunti by the sage as a token of appreciation for her service to him.

At this juncture, the dancer came up with a slightly deviated yet convincing portrayal of Kunti giving birth to a baby boy through mime of pregnancy and childbirth pangs which were acted out with artistry.

Had she shown him being born out of the ear as the myth says, it wouldn’t have gone down well with the present day rational viewer! Another charming episode was the romance blooming between Karna and Uruvi set to beautiful raga with just swarbhol and dance.

Of late, ‘tanam’ (a rhythmic improvisation in Carnatic music) is picking up with every thematic dance performance to make an impact of a very crucial scene and in this case too, Shreyasi took it up to show Urvi questioning behind closed doors of her chambers, Karna’s ethical stand in disrobing of Draupadi. The act of closing the doors before accosting her husband was presented very convincingly.

The most poignant part is where she extols lord Krsna with a plea to spell out Karna’s future and her shock at being told about his past (Kunti’s abandoned son). Shreyasi expressed this shock in the language of dance mnemonics with feelings of awe, dejection and resignation writ all over her face in rapid sequence.

Convinced that she cannot wipe out his ‘fate’, the sequences where Urvui feeds her child and Karna alternately with her own hands, altering her facial expressions of maternal and wifely affection, was touching. Back to the first scene where there is detailing of cremation done by Uruvi, the narrative is rounded off by a tillana in true Bharatanatyam style.

However, a few lacunae in the presentation which if rectified could take this unique dance places in future. The dance seemed a little racy to a story like this; secondly, at the end of each episode, it was weird to watch the dancer exit in a hurry almost running away from the stage.

Tune and tenor

She could have toned down her exits in tune and tenor of the episode presented making for varied modes of going over to the next scene. The nritta aspect was rather repetitive sending signals of limited repertoire in this aspect. That Karna was a ‘Suta putra’ and not ‘Shudra putra’ has to be emphasised in every story on Karna to avoid misinterpretation of this character.

The show was hosted at India Habitat Centre.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 5:31:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/from-a-fresh-perspective/article25849218.ece

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