The monsoon season is eagerly awaited by the people in Delhi not only to mitigate the heat, but also to savour the flavours of festivals of dance and music . The Parampara Festival of Natya Tarangini is one of the most artistic ventures. This year, Natya Tarangini Performing Art Centre, which celebrated its 22nd year, had a galaxy of legendary as well as young musicians and dancers performing at Kamani Auditorium to cultivate a love for music and dance amongst the generation next and give aesthetic bliss to connoisseurs of the city.
Right at the onset, legendary dance gurus Raja and Radha Reddy and their group performed their new production ‘Suryam Pranamamyaham’ , which not just provided a momentary visual delight, but gave rasikas a peek into the story of creation as visualised by seers and prophets of our country, in the crisp and vibrant language of Kuchipudi. The concept and choreography of this rich story was by Yamini Reddy and Guru Raja Reddy respectively. The story in the vocabulary and syntax of dance drew from the Nasadiya Sukta – the hymn of creation. The story started with an endless egg with Brahma atop a lotus stem which when it burst, from his principal head emerged the Rigveda; from his eastern head emerged Yajur Veda; from his western head came out Sama Veda; and from the mouth of the northern head came out the Atharva Veda.
The story retold in dance rendition was about how the splendour of the Rigveda emanated the sound Aum, while the reverberation, radiance, resonance and echo of the sound were embellished by other Vedas. It detailed how the sounds of Bhu; Bhuvah and Svaha which followed the Sun, the creator of the universe. Then the story narrated the mythology of the Sun symbolically riding a seven horse chariot representing the seven colours of the rainbow, whom Lord Brahma called ‘Atma Swarupa’; ‘Visva Rupa; and ‘Visva Murthy’ – the soul, form and profile of the universe as well as the nucleus of the Vedas and the featureless Param Brahma with the powers of creation, preservation and annihilation. The qualities of Surya as signified by his varied names were presented by a team of well trained disciples of the Guru. There was sublime beauty in Raja’s renditions to the mnemonics; there was precision in devotees rendering Surya Namaskar; there was devotion and ecstasy in the expression of dancers; and there was happiness in the benevolence of Radha. It was a cerebral mentorship of our deep tradition for the audience, besides the piece evoked rasa soaking the rasikas in devotion for the Sun . The production ended with “Twam Surya Pranamiyam aham” with the entire team of performers bowing in reverence with Surya standing majestically behind in all his glory. Kolanki Sai Kumar’s and P. Vidyasagar’s music along with Sandeep Datta’s light designing complemented the production.
The legendary veteran dance couple P.V. Dhananjayan and Shanta Dhanajayan enthralled the audience on the second day of the festival with “Rama Pattavishek Vangam”. With their Bharatanatyam and Kathakali background, they showcased how Kaikeyi, the second queen of Dasaratha, set the ball rolling for Rama not to be crowned king, causing the death of his sire.
Meticulously trained dancer Pavithra Srinivasan – the disciple of the Dhananjayan–as queen Kaikeyi was all set to be a part of the celebrations of Rama’s abhishekh – beautifully emoted – when the wily and Janus-faced Manthara gradually and surely weaned Kaikeyi to her way of thinking, cunningly sowing the seeds of suspicion, as to what her state would be as a dowager step-mother when her pious husband would be gone.
Manthara’s role was not an easy one, but Shanta with her years of experience in abhinaya looked authentic as she roused the emotion of anger and disgust in the audience. She won in her craft, both as an actor and as an evil influence on Kaikeyi. As for Dasaratha, Kaikeyi bereft him of happiness. He was angry, sad, begged his queen fruitlessly to withdraw her demand. Dhananjayan’s Kathakali background was an important tool. Through the movement of his facial muscles coupled with body language, he displayed his anguish. There was a little change in the story here. The epic records the death of Dasaratha when Rama bids adieu for his vanvas, but liberty was given to dancers who created moving poetry on stage. Dasaratha breathes his last when Kaikeyi remained firm in her decision.
Satyajit, who is all set to carry forward the art he learnt from his parents, performed Saint Tulsi Das’s “Sri Ram Charana sukh dayi”. His dance included the different episodes in Rama’s life. The miracles caused by the mere touch of Rama’s feet were appropriately enacted.
On the final day, Kathak exponent Uma Dogra, a disciple of the late Kathak genius Durga Lal of the Jaipur Gharana, took the bold step of showing some of her guru’s unique work. Taking lines from different poets, she wove a garland of shlokas and showed her choreographic work of Panchajati with her disciples.
Since she has had the opportunity of learning abhinaya from the legendary Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, Kalanidhi Narayan, she ventured to do the piece “Dheera Samire Yamuna teere”, in which the sakhi is the protagonist urging Radha to go and unite with her lord Krishna. Perhaps the vocalist, Vaibhav Mankad could have brought in more bhava or emotion in singing the astapadi which is highly sensuous. Percussionist Satyaprakash Mishra who is a budding artist gave her fitting support when she showcased some of her guru’s technical virtuosity.