Many sparkling moments amidst frenetic pace: on Shobana

The strength of Shobana’s dance lies in the ease with which she conveys bhava

Updated - January 01, 2018 04:54 pm IST

Published - December 28, 2017 04:27 pm IST

Each artiste after a rigorous training in the grammar and technique of the art, charters his/her own path. Some choose to adhere to tradition, catering to a niche group of rasikas, while some make the art accessible to a larger group. It was evident from the applause heard at Bharat Kalachar at Shobana’s performance that lokdharmi was her calling card.


A traditional mallari (Khanda Jathi Triputa tala) was the invocatory song and Shobana, in a pale yellow and pink costume, breezed on to the stage. The characteristic jumps, leaps and fast-paced movements spanning the stage succeeded in holding the attention of the audience. The kriti ‘Gopalaka Pahimam’ in raga Revaguptisustained the momentum. A Padavarnam composed by Swati Tirunal in raga Nilambari formed the core of the show.

The strength of Shobana’s dance lies in her expressive face that communicates bhava with effortless ease; moving from one emotion to another in a fraction of a second.

The irritability of the heroine turning to a feeling of wonder and romance, when she realises that the despicable paan chewing man wooing her is none other than the Lord himself; cajoling her sakhi to see the imaginary moon, which she sees and the disappointment when the sakhi fails to do so; the description of the beauty of the physical form with nuanced detailing of the ornamentation and alankara were some of the memorable sequences in the varnam.

Command over rhythm

Shobana depicted the story of Brighu Muni visiting Brahma, Siva and Vishnu. The narrative would have been easier to comprehend had the pace been slower.

The flourish with which she finishes her theermanams in varied kalapramanams in the rhythmic interlude of the varnam brought forth her command over rhythm, but quite often the focus remained on postures and use of movements to cover the stage space.

The ability to sustain the interest of the audience is Shobana’s biggest asset but the frenetic pace makes it a momentary experience.

In ‘Thaye Yashodha’ in raga Thodi, she brought alive the mischievousness of little Krishna. The complaints of the gopis to Yashodha, Krishna’s meticulous preparation for stealing butter and the sad expression on his face on being punished were endearing, but the sequence showing a gopi slipping on butter was over-dramatised and appeared comical.

Preeti Mahesh’s vocal support was adequate but her voice got drowned in the sound of the mridangam, violin and nattuvangam.

Srividya Sailesh on the cymbals, Anantha R. Krishnan on the mridangam, Neyveli Radhakrishnan on the violin and Devraj on the flute provided orchestral support.

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