Harinie Jeevitha’s ‘Varadarajam Upasmahe’ had all the artistic elements in the right proportion

The young dancer impressed with her lithe movements and intense abhinaya

Updated - April 23, 2024 12:56 pm IST

Published - April 22, 2024 01:34 pm IST

Harinie Jeevitha presented ‘Varadarajam Upasmahe’ recently at Gaana Nritya Academy, Mangaluru.

Harinie Jeevitha presented ‘Varadarajam Upasmahe’ recently at Gaana Nritya Academy, Mangaluru. | Photo Credit: Prashanth Agari 

Gaana Nritya Academy, Mangaluru, presented the Chennai-based Bharatanatyam dancer Harinie Jeevitha’s performance ‘Varadarajam Upasmahe’ to a full house. A senior disciple of Sheela Unnikrishnan’s Sridevi Nrithyalaya, Harinie’s performance stood out for its grace and artistry.

The production was inspired by the 10-day Brahmotsavam at the Lord Varadaraja temple, Kanchipuram. Harinie brought alive all the festivities, paraphernalia and the rituals involved in the utsavam. A lot of research has gone into this labour of love and one could see the penchant for quality not only in the main artiste but also in those in her team. This presentation included compositions such as ‘Varadaraja ninnu kori vachithi’ (Tyagaraja), Dikshithar’s ‘Varadarajam upasmahe’ in Saranga (set as a thillana) and many Sanskrit shlokas, Telugu songs and Tamil pasurams.

Harinie transported the audience to the temple and streets of Kanchipuram through her engaging portrayal.

Harinie transported the audience to the temple and streets of Kanchipuram through her engaging portrayal. | Photo Credit: Prashanth Agari 

The show began with a brief visual presentation of the 10-day Brahmotsavam on screen and a description of the various utsavams with their respective vahanas (mounts). When Harinie appeared on stage, she transported the spectators to the temple and streets of Kanchipuram. Every small detail of the utsavam was taken into account and one felt like a part of the procession, with the chanting of the Vedas in the background. Harinie depicted the various vahanas in detail including the vigorous swinging (kulukkal) through her lithe movements.

Harinie Jeevitha depicted Gajendra Moksham.

Harinie Jeevitha depicted Gajendra Moksham. | Photo Credit:  Prashanth Agari 

The presentation focussed on the third day’s utsavam — the garuda vahanam . Harinie presented it through a varnam, ‘Aadhiyugaththayan kandida nindra arul varadan’. If her depiction of Garuda vahanam was spectacular, the way she presented the episode of Gajendra Moksham, in which the merciful Lord flies on his mount Garuda to rescue the elephant king Gajendra from the clutches of the crocodile, was moving. The elephant experiences pain and fear when his leg is caught by the crocodile, and is exhausted. Yet, it continues to appeal to Vishnu, who rescues him. Gajendra finally finds divine liberation. With her nimble movements and intense abhinaya, Harinie brought the scene alive.

Harinie concluded her presentation with the charama shloka from the Bhagavad Gita, ‘Sarva dharmaan parityaja’ that ends with the words ‘Maa shucha:’ (These two words, meaning ‘Don’t fear’ are inscribed on the right hand of Kanchi Varadaraja). The message is, ‘Surrender unto me, leaving everything.

The concept and choreography were by Harinie, with Chitra Madhavan and Sudhavalli Sri as resource persons. The recorded orchestra was of high quality — her guru Sheela Unnikrishnan’s nattuvangam, Srikanth Gopalakrishnan’s emotional-laden singing, Guru Bharadwaaj on the mridangam, Nandini Saigiridhar on the violin, B. Muthukumar (flute) Anjani Srinivasan (veena) and Sankara Sastrigal (Veda chanting).

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