Vidhya Subramanian’s refreshing portrayals

At her performance for the Federation of Sabhas, Chennai, Vidhya Subramanian lent something new to the pieces in her repertoire

January 27, 2022 10:30 pm | Updated January 31, 2022 11:32 am IST

There was a whiff of fresh air in Vidhya Subramanian’s Bharatanatyam repertoire. Old pieces had been refurbished to reflect new interpretations and the new pieces came all spiced up.

The invocatory piece on Bhavani (‘Anandaamruthakarshini’, Amritavarshini, Muthuswamy Dikshitar), as the giver of abundant rain, was followed by a padavarnam on Shiva (‘Samiyai azhaittodiva sakhiye endan’, navaragamalika, Adi, K.N.Dhandayuthapani Pillai), in which the nayika draws a parallel between the sky and the parched earth and pleads for rain.

Music by Murali Parthasarathy (vocal) and Eashwar Ramakrishnan (violin) merged effortlessly. ‘Asanam garalam’ (Shivanandalahari), a descriptive verse on Shiva tuned in ragamalika, ended with Thodi, thus flowing into ‘Samiyai’. Once the dancer had established the nayaka, she opened the varnam with the simile, and Murali broke into an akara that mimicked the force of the rain. The trikala theermanam followed this.

Similes and metaphors explained visually the emotions of longing, but the sthayi can be lost in the physicality of the poetic phrases. Some of the theermanams, which were conducted with great precision by M.S. Ananthasri (nattuvangam) and Shivaprasad (mridangam), had too long an ending. One must, however, appreciate the dancer’s agility in the kudichi mettu adavus, which appeared often and went down to the floor.

Well visualised

Vidhya’s most endearing portrayal was in the Papanasam Sivan-Kapi composition ‘Enna tavam seidanai Yasoda’, which she re-arranged. A verse sketched the background of the butter-stealing child, who cries in fake repentance when caught red-handed. It segued logically into the anupallavi ‘Irezu bhuvanangal’ as a point in the narration and the music as well. The end was visualised well — as Yashoda walks away with little Krishna, the composer sees this wondrous image in his mind’s eye, and writes the lyrics.

Touching a part of Krishna’s life that is seldom spoken of was ‘Nirgamana’, his departure from Gokul, which was followed by ‘Brindavana Nilaye’ (Ritigowla, Adi, Oothukadu Venkatasubbaiyer). The former (Madhuvanti, Karthik Hebbar) dealt with the pain of Krishna’s parting from Radha, his viraha contrasting with Radha’s happy absorption in Krishna in Brindavan. Linking the two was a credible narrative of Radha requesting Krishna to play the flute one last time; the music stays on within her, and Radha becomes the Brindavan she inhabits, just as Krishna had foreseen, singing and dancing with Krishna by her side. Vidhya’s Krishna looked desolate with tear-filled eyes. The recital ended with an unusual Surya thillana (Adi) on the sun god, with unusual Tamil and Hindi lyrics. It was overall a well-planned effort.

The Chennai-based writer reviews

classical dance.

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