Friday Review

‘ART’ come alive

Ananda Shankar Jayant and Shankaranada Kalakshetra performing “Sri Rama Namam-Entha Ruchin Ra” that brings alive the life story of Bhakta Ramadas through his music and poetry, during the ART-a 3 day dance festival celebrating the trinity of Telugu poet musicians

Ananda Shankar Jayant and Shankaranada Kalakshetra performing “Sri Rama Namam-Entha Ruchin Ra” that brings alive the life story of Bhakta Ramadas through his music and poetry, during the ART-a 3 day dance festival celebrating the trinity of Telugu poet musicians

The word ‘ART’ here means the Telugu Vaggeyakara triumvirate — Annamacharya, Ramadasu and Thyagaraja whose select compositions were interpreted in dance by noted Bharatanatyam exponent, Ananda Shanka Jayanth, devoting one evening each to these Vaggeyakara’s numbers. This three-day event was held at Ravindra Bharati jointly by South Indian Cultural Association (SICA) and Ananda’s Sankarananda Kalaskshetra.

When we think of Ramadasu and Thyagaraja, we associate their works with Lord Rama and Sita. And in the case of Annamacharya, dancer Ananda thought it best to present ‘Sringara kirtanas’ of Annamacharya for she saw echoes of Jayadeva in them that describe Lord Venkateswara and his consort Alamelu Manga with touch of divinity and contours of romanticism. Ananda’s concept this time was to interpret in dance the thematic content of the compositions these vaggeyakaras penned. Ananda Shankar, highly talented and experienced dancer that she is, indeed, made a valiant attempt in not just presenting the numbers by dramatising the content in sancharis-filled probing abhinaya, but scanning it from all angles of pertinent themes incorporated.

The three-day schedule opened with interpretation of what Annamayya meant through his kirtanas. These being Sringara-based descriptions, the focus was on Alamelu Manga. The way dancer Ananda transformed herself into the characters of Lord Venkateswara and his consort Alimelu Manga was a thing to watch. Thanks to the efforts put in by some composer-musicians like Nedunuri Krishnamurthy, these Sringara kirtanas made verbal and musical impact. Ideally so, this three- day event was dedicated to the memory of Nedunuri Krishnamurthy.

There was quite a bit of theatrical appeal in most of Ramadasu kirtana presentation, for the very source being practical imagery like Bhakta Ramadasu was brutally whipped by soldiers. Ramadasu’s response to this brutality was expression of his pain in songs. The songs Ramadasu wrote were mostly generated from his suffering in ruler Tanisha’s jail. The dances presented by Ananda to some select numbers were a treat to watch more because the presentation was emotion ridden, especially when Ramadasu gives account of what all he did in the service of Rama and the punishment he earned for this.

The final day’s dance was an interpretation of Thyagaraja Kirtanas. It began with Thyagaraja kirtana Sogasu Chooda Tharama in Kannadagowla, sung in appreciation of child Rama. The thematic order ran up to Sitakalyanam in first part and the second and final part Bharata entering forests in search of Rama and ending with Ramas’s coronation. Uyyala Loogavayya in Neelambari leads to Sitakalyanam taking slokas of Valmiki for connectivity of theme. The second part had Sandehamu Deerpumayya in Ramapriya, Oka Mata Oka Banamu in Harikambhoji, Enthanine Varninthumu Sabari in Mukhari and Marugelara O Raghava in Jayanthasri were remarkable numbers.

Ace vocalist Sattiraju Venumadhav lent vocal support in the rendition of the compositions of these three vaggeyakaras on all three days. He knows well the pulse of the song for he too composed plenty of Annamacharya songs touched by none so far. Most of Annamacharya compositions Ananda danced to were those tuned by Venumadhav. His animated rendition with rich vocal output added charm to all the compositions. The orchestral group was headed by seasoned Nattuvanar and jati composer I.V. Renuka Prasad. T.P. Blasubramanyam on mridangam, Saikumar on violin and Uma Venkateswarlu on flute were others in the ensemble.


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Printable version | May 29, 2022 11:00:32 am | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/art-come-alive/article7011682.ece