‘Rasa’ theory, dealing with the emotive content of a work of art, is the primary concept of Indian arts and aesthetics, especially music, dance, poetry, and literature. And ‘shringar’ is supposed to be the ‘rasa-raaj’, the most prominent of the nine rasas mentioned by Bharata Muni in “Natya Shastra”.
Asavari, in collaboration with Living Music Society for Arts, conjured up the dual aspects of Shringar – ‘Sanyog’, the joy emanating from the cherished union of two hearts and viyog, their falling apart with the sorrow of non-fulfilment. Called ‘Sanyog–Viyog’, it was a unique presentation, showcased through the flexible, melodious voice of Sunanda Sharma and the mobile visage of the dynamic Kathak danseuse Shovana Narayan, registering the minutest nuances of passion, anger, jealousy, fear, and love, with great ease.
Sunanda opened with Sanyog Shringar, invoking the love between the divine lovers Radha-Krishna with thumri Mishra Khamaj “Thade rahiyo Baanke Shyam/ gagariya main dhari aaun/ chunri pahir aaun/ kari aaun solaho singaar…” and set the romantic mood with her curvaceous ‘Kahan’ and bewitching ‘Bol-Banaav’ for Shovana to respond with her abhinaya on a romantic poem by L. M. Singhavi, “Chitralikhit sa dekh raha hoon/ Main tere angon ka vaibhav…”, sung by Madhav Prasad in raga Kedar, interspersed with the technical ‘tode-tukde’ of traditional Kathak by Shovana. There was the desire and expectation of ‘milan’ (union) in the emotion soaked poem, but the words were difficult to decipher in the not so clear diction of the vocalist.
The spring of Sanyog does not last forever. Seasons change and what followed was sadness of Viyog, the other aspect of shringaar. Exploring the desperation of parting with the beloved, Sunanda rendered a Chaiti, “Bin Piya aave na nindiya ho Rama, sari sari ratiyan…”.
She accentuated the sadness of separation in the sombre swaras of Jogiya, unlike the usual tune of Chaiti based on Pahadi or Manjh-Khamaj. Shovana, in turn, expressed Viyog through a couple of Kunwar Shyam compositions in raga Sugharaii. The first composition depicts the rainy season with cloud of monsoon turn into the tears of the Virahini Nayika ,“Garaj garaj Sakhi...Main Birahin ‘Kunvar-Shyam’ bin…”. The second one illustrates the disappointment of nayika when her lover does not turn up as promised and the consequent non-fulfillment of her desire in the bandish, “Piya paas nahin/ Kachhu aas nahin”.
One saw different shades of emotions blossoming spontaneously in the creativity of both Sunanda and Shovana when they came together to perform duets. Their extempore performance to depict the love between Radha and Krishna, the supreme emotion of Shringar Rasa, bloomed in the Kajri, “Bheegi jaun main Piya bachaye leiho/ Barsan lagi badariya…” where Radha pleads Krishna to let her consciousness immerse into and become one with him.
This was the ultimate union with the absolute surrender of body, mind, and soul, after the intense yearning and pining for the beloved. The subtle expressions of lyrics, both through music and dance, touched a higher spiritual level, symbolising the merging of atman with Paramatma, the Supreme. Shovana’s crisp footwork joined the laggi of tabla during this last and fast segment of Kajri. This ultimate union of love and devotion was further celebrated with “Govind gun gao…”, a khayal in Kedar set to Teentala, that reached ‘Sanyog-Viyog’ to its climax.
The concept by Kusum Awasthi Gupta was excellent. The format of ‘Sanyog-Viyog’ also had a sutradhar (anchor) which could have worked as a catalyst, inspiring both the performers with her involved commentary. But the anchor, Lavlin Thadani sat all through right in the centre of the stage, seemingly untouched by music or dance, like a ‘vivadi swara’, digging into the thick pages of her commentary. Even her reading out the lengthy introductory script could have perhaps helped foreign audiences but was totally redundant where the sahitya, sangeet and the abhinayatmak nritya were more than enough to reach the relish of ‘rasa-bhava’ to the rasikas.