Dance

Ranjana Gauhar’s latest production captures the spirit of Kabir

Spreading love: Vinod Kevin Bachan as Kabir

Spreading love: Vinod Kevin Bachan as Kabir  

With patriotism in the air, it seemed even the world of classical music and dance is draped in the Tricolor. One witnessed Sare Jahan Se Accha, an annual event organised by seasoned Odissi danseuse Ranjana Gauhar, with her repertory presenting a production on the life and times of Kabir. Titled ‘Khud Mein Kabir, Kabir Mein Hum’, the production aimed at finding the uplifting ideas of Kabir in ourselves.

Lauded for her organisational skills, Gauhar brought a number of artistes from various genres of dance and music to the Capital. “The audiences should be able to see the new generation of custodians of our classical repository. I have invited Odissi, Kathak, Mohiniyattam and Satriya exponents.”

Talking of “Khud Mein Kabir, Kabir Mein Hum”, Gauhar, who choreographed the production, reminded how the mystic poet was discarded by a Brahmin mother and was raised by a Muslim weaver couple and emerged as “an epitome of secularism”.

The production began with her playing the part of narrator and Kabir’s step mother. Presented with a running commentary in Hindi, the play portrayed lokadharmic tendencies with much aplomb and had a bucolic and colloquial feel to it.

The part of Kabir was aptly played by Vinod Kevin Bachan, a senior disciple of the exponent. The entire production followed a set trend of advancing the storyline with Kabir’s dohas intermingled with a literal portrayal of the life of the poet. The production sporadically used the Odissi dance vocabulary. “ It is a dance drama based on Odissi technique,” clarified Gauhar. The drama utilised a plethora of musical instruments ranging from tabla, mridangam to even popular electronically generated music to give the theme a lilting effect.

A difficult theme to present in a dance format, Gauhar said, “Once I learnt about Kabir, I was besotted by his life. His couplets revealed his modesty and humility. He was an illiterate man who went on to become a revered poet. Today, he is the subject of PhDs, isn’t that amazing?”

With dohas like ‘Tinaka kabahun na nindiye, jo paanvan tar hoy, kabahun udee aankhin pade, to peer ghaneree hoy’, Gauhar captured the thought of Kabir through dance and drama. However, it was not replicated consistently. Although one certainly agreed with her about the difficulties in treating such a cryptic subject, the presentation could have been more subtle. At times, one felt lost in the disorienting mysticism of the production. Lighting by Sandeep Dutta added to the charm of the production.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 12:45:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/mapping-the-mystical-maze/article29109255.ece

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