Delving into Kala Nadam Festival

Enthralling(clockwise) Gourav and Sourav Misra, Radhika Ramanujam and Surupa Sen and Pavitra Reddy from the Nrityagram ensemble

Enthralling(clockwise) Gourav and Sourav Misra, Radhika Ramanujam and Surupa Sen and Pavitra Reddy from the Nrityagram ensemble   | Photo Credit: Anil Babu


The Kala Nadam Festival brought some wonderful performances

Like every year, Kalandam festival had a wonderful line-up of performances this year too. The first day began with a Bharatanatyam performance by Radhika Ramanujam, an accomplished artiste. It is always difficult to be the opening performer of any festival let alone showcasing their artistry in a 45-minute slot. Radhika seemed a bit low in energy and heavy footed in the Nritta department in the opening Mallari. Even though she performed with involvement and sincerity, there might be a few questions to look into, that might constructively add perspectives. Shyama Shastri’s magnum opus “Devi Brova” in Chintamani is a deeply melancholic prayer, requesting the mother goddess to remove sorrows. “Na vedhalu deerchi karunimpave,” he begs here and it was jarring to see a smiling/ jubilant sthayi in the padabhinaya for this piece.

Delving into Kala Nadam Festival
The following Padavarnam in Karaharapriya “Mogamaginen” is a very popular piece. The recorded music seemed to have been sung in the manodharma format. It is extremely important that the basic Sangati of the composition be presented at least a few times before delving into manodharma because there is a hidden bhava within the musical nuance of the composition. The interpretation of the Laya of the gamaka, pause and that construction of the phrase as envisioned by the composer brings out the artistic depth of an artist. Is the Nayaki of this varnam a Mugdha? Or is she pragalbha? It is clear in the lines “kudi irinda nalil kulirnda chandiran”(the same moon seemed to be cool when I was united with my lord) that the Nayaki is definitely not a Mugdha and in fact it elaborates on the pain of a Virahotkanta. Perhaps the piece could be revisited and looked into.
Delving into Kala Nadam Festival

The next performance was a high energy Kathak performance by Gourav and Sourav Misra, full of antics and gimmickry. Though their layakari was strong, the haphazardness in their costume management and stage demeanour was glaring. They definitely played to the gallery and earned applauses for their loud footwork, but is Kathak just that? The subtlety and grace that the form demands were absent.

The audience were transported into another realm by the Nrityagram ensemble with “Shriyah.” Not one misplaced step, uncoordinated movement or confusion in the entire performance. It was proof of their hard-work and love for perfection. They performed to a wonderful live orchestra and even the audio level of the live orchestra was proof of their aesthetics and artistic judgement. The first syllable, mardala beat, cymbals, spotlight and Pavithra Reddy’s movement began at perfect sync. The amount of rehearsals that takes to achieve this kind of perfection is unimaginable.

Delving into Kala Nadam Festival
The opening piece was a Sankeerthan in the Vaishnava tradition. It was layered beautifully with the instruments adding with the entry of each new dancer. The movements were enchanting and full of devotion. The artists performed with complete poise and control. Dance and music was one soul here, no doubt!

It was followed by a Surdas Bhajan performed as a solo by Pavithra Reddy with childlike enthusiasm and comic timing that this choreography demanded. Each stanza of the bhajan here depicted a different character (Gopika, Krishna and Yashoda) and Pavithra traversed through them comfortably.

Two ashtapadis followed. In Lalita Lavanga, Surupa and Pavithra moved with exquisite sensuousness in tandem. It looked like a collage of wonderful photographs of a pining Radha just wounded by the cupid being consoled by her sakhi in the picturesque Vrindavan.

The highlight of the evening though was the solo Ashtapadi presentation by Surupa Sen. In Dheera Sameere, Surupa demonstrated immense depth and understanding of the texts. It takes an artist of her stature to really understand that music is hidden in its silences.Surupa literally brought to life the banks of Yamuna and the audiences were transported. She effortlessly portrayed the voluptuousness and metaphorically subtle eroticism hidden in the lyrics like very few can! Radha, don’t let your full hips idle, the sakhi says (na kru nitambini) and Surupa’s heavy, yet graceful and poignant exit stood as testimony to her conviction towards characterisation and depth in choreography. A great show!

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 6:04:58 AM |

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