Kalandhika national festival held over four days in Kochi saw young and veteran artistes giving their best. Carnatic vocalist Abhishek Raghuram did not fail to impress his fans on the first day of the festival. He had a team of formidable artistes such Akkarai Subhalaksmi on the violin and Patri Satish Kumar on the mridangam. Abhishek started with Nattakurinji varnam followed by an intense rendition of Tyagaraja’s Huseni kriti ‘Raghuveera ranadheera’. The Poorvikalyani alapana was short and euphonic. Ponnaiyah Pillai’s Misra Chapu kriti ‘Satileni guruguha’ had a detailed niraval on the line ‘Koti manmadharoopude’, which was abstract in most parts and left indelible an impression on the listeners with its melody. Although the vocalist did not conform to a pattern in organisation, he painted a vivid musical picture with the melange of musical phrases.
When he took up the ragamalika ‘Bhavayami raghuramam’, he started with short raga sketches, but did not go for a tame singing of the composition. The line ‘Kanaka mriga roopadhara’ in Mukhari raga came almost like a virutham, with the vocalist embellishing every term with musical ideas. However, the concert, which started late due to a delayed inaugural function, was cut short to just over one hour. The calibre of the violinist and the mridangam player were largely left untapped. Nevertheless, their rhythmic exchanges with the vocalist in the kalpanaswaras stood out. Also, Satish Kumar had a short tani to prove his mettle.
On the second day, Bharatanatyam dancer Parshwanath Upadhye enthralled the audience with what he does best — supple jumps, leaps, crisp adavus, aesthetic stances and his regular Krishna pieces portrayed with childlike innocence. However, the choreography in the nritta segments for the Behag varnam ‘Vanajaksha ninne nammithi’ were mostly repetitive. Impeccable singing by Srikanth Gopalakrishnan and the rest of the orchestra added lustre to the performance.
Mohiniyattam recital of Neena Prasad had a padavarnam on river Ganga, ‘Mate gangatarangini’ in Kamboji raga and Misra Chapu tala. A composition of Kalamandalam Sugandhi, the varnam portrayed the river as an ocean of mercy, liberating the souls and crowning Shiva, thereby enlightening him.
Mini Pramod Menon had Muthiah Bhagavathar’s Khamas daru varnam as her central piece in a Mohiniyattam performance. ‘Mathe Malayadhwaja Pandyasamjathe’ was choreographed well, giving ample scope to variations with carefully packed adavus in the nritta segments. The dancer portrayed the ferocious goddess who slays Rakthabijasura without spilling a drop of his blood. She later enacted the ‘swadheenabhatrika’ nayika in the padam ‘Dhanyayayi njaaninnu Ramana’.
Kuchipudi dancer Prateeksha Kashi’s ‘Dashavathara Sabdam’ explored possibilities of dance, body kinetics, mime and rhythm, especially in the episodes featuring Narasimha, Balarama and Parasurama. However, one could find an often erring mridangam player and a vocalist ably managed by her guru Vyjayanti Kashi who played the nattuvangam. Prateeksha came up with a sprightly enactment of scenes of nature in the Ashtapadi ‘Lalitalavanga’.
Neelamana sisters, Draupadi and Padmini, presented Balamuralikrishna’s ‘Amma anandadayini’ as their central piece in a Bharatanatyam-Kuchipudi jugalbandi on the final day of the festival.
In the sanchari, they portrayed the episode of animal sacrifice that angers the goddess. Sankaracharya places the Sreechakra and pleases the goddess and saves the city from her wrath. Padmini flawlessly presented a thillana in Kuchipudi style with lithe movements and nimble footwork. Sreedevi Nrityalaya, which has become an internet sensation, had a group of seven Bharatanatyam dancers who danced in tandem to the Lathangi varnam ‘Konchum salangai’. Although synchronised and coordinated, the dancers put up a show that was amateurish in parts. The sancharis such as the churning of the ocean and Shiva drinking the poison were enacted. Harini Jeevitha performed ‘Sivanandatandavam’, based on Adi Shankara’s Sivanandalahiri, with clearly marked stances and vibrant movements.
The festival was organised by Kalandhika Cultural Society.