Dance

Shovana Narayan’s “Rashmirathi” is crisp and catchy

In rhythm: A scene from “Rashmirathi”

In rhythm: A scene from “Rashmirathi”  

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Marked by less drama and more dance, Shovana Narayan’s “Rashmirathi” brought out the multi-layered emotions that define Karna’s story

The story of Mahabharat’s anti-hero Karna has always evoked admiration and his life has inspired many artistes to justify his actions in the epic. The highlight of the Kathak doyen Shovana Narayan’s Lalit Arpan festival was also Karna’s story, aptly titled “Rashmirathi”. Staged on the first day of the festival at India Habitat Centre, the title was a pointer to his birth through the sun god but nurtured by a charioteer. The production was inspired by Ramdhari Singh Dinkar’s epic poem of the same name.

With less drama and more dance, Shovana made this thematic dance performance a pleasure to watch for more than one reason. Firstly, since the story had to be narrated through dance, her forte, she chose not to resort to dramatic action or dialogue to convey the unsaid. Secondly, the choreographer avoided dragging the emotive element of Karna’s life story and instead presented a crisp narrative of important events. Thirdly, within the medium of Kathak, she was bold enough to think out of the box in terms of costume and certain movements so that the thematic element is not sacrificed at the altar of techniques.

Stylishly mounted, the group presentation had both male and female dancers, dressed in aesthetic dhotis and full-sleeved achkan with minimalistic jewellery, gliding in and out of the stage as the story unfolded. The group arrayed in threes and twos got divided into Pandav and Kaurav at one point of time, warring factions in another change of scene and so on. Their vigorous footwork and shifts from three to two and vice-versa fell into artistic patterns with excellent synchronisation.

The secret

The lighting further enhanced the effect of poignant scenes. The dancer in white dhoti was to be identified as Karna – the white denoting his purity of heart and birth. He faced open discrimination because of his low caste, despite his unparalleled valour. The scene shifted to Duryodhan recognising Karna’s talent and anointing him as the king of Ang raj. The status bestowed on him made Karna a loyalist to his mentor. This vital point also explained his rejection to change horses midstream when approached with proposals and pleas from Kunti and Krishna. The latter also revealed the secret of his noble birth but to no avail. The dance and mime between the two was impressive.

The Pandav-Kuru group combat shown through pure dance, with footwork in the Carnatic Yati fashion and chakkars, was performed with amazing alacrity by the dancers. Shovana made an appearance as Kunti, the mother who had found and lost her son again. The scene where the two meet was charged with mute emotion where one could feel the mixed feelings of rejection and joy. Kunti’s guilt, helplessness and surge of maternal affection that was not gratifiedwas convincingly portrayed by Shovana thorugh her masterly abhinaya. The tragic end of Karna proved to be cathartic for the audience.

Earlier Komal Bilwal, disciple of Shovana Narayan gave a solo recital which was quite engaging.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 9:03:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/shovana-narayans-rashmirathi-is-crisp-and-catchy/article29655385.ece

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