Meera's tale, creatively retold

‘Meera — the Soul Divine’ combined artistry and aesthetics, writes Jagyaseni Chatterjee

August 04, 2016 05:04 pm | Updated 05:04 pm IST

'Meera- the Soul Divine’, a dance performance held at The Music Academy in Chennai. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan

'Meera- the Soul Divine’, a dance performance held at The Music Academy in Chennai. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan

‘Meera – the Soul Divine’, a collaborative work by Chitra Visweswaran’s Chidambaram Dance Company and vocalist Bombay Jayashri was a well-crafted visual treat. It was presented by AIM for Seva at The Music Academy.

A lamp-lit effect created by a soft spotlight focussed on Meera, the saint poetess (Chitra Visweswaran), singing ‘Govinda Madhava Gopala Keshava’ in Yaman Kalyani hailing the glory of Lord Krishna.

The play, presented in a flashback format, unfolded the story of Meera, born into the royal Rathore family. One day, during a wedding procession, the child Meera (Sahasra Sathyanarayanan) asked her mother (Vidya Ravindran Anand) who would be her groom. Her mother’s reply, “Giridhari”, was enough to kindle her love for Krishna that later took over her entire life.

A young Meera was enacted beautifully by Shruthe Raammohan. It was only after Meera’s friend Mithula gave her an idol of Krishna that she agreed to marry Bhoj Raj (Arupa Lahiry), a prince of the royal family of Chittor. But the emotions that Bhoj Raj felt such as anger or a sense of defeat at having failed to divert Meera’s attention from the idol, should have been communicated better by the artist through body language and expressions. A target of vengeance, the plots hatched against Meera resulted in miracles. Here too, the the dancer’s (Sukanya Ravindhar Srinivasan) emotions should have been intense.

Lilting chants of ‘Krishna Hare’ by an older Meera (Uma Nambudripad), had a soothing effect. Meera then set off on a journey to Vrindavan.

When more than half the performance was over, Chitra Visweswaran made an entry again and took up from where she had left off (‘Keshava Madhava’). She then came up with a long monologue that was gripping. The highlights were her depiction of the Navarasa for the line ‘Naina bane visal’ and emoting the gajendra moksham, Ahalya and Draupadi in a crisp fashion. Followed by Pt. R. Visweswaran’s timeless tune of ‘Pyaare Darshan’ in Bhairav, Meera travelled to Dwarka where she realised that Meera and Giridhari were one.

A white cloth on the Krishna idol, an amber spotlight, softly fading music depicting the union of the Jeevatma with the Paramatma (instead of a thillana) reflected the choreographer’s touch of sophistication.

Other dancers who performed were Nandini Ganesan, Sharmada Vishwanath and Jai Quehaeni Reddy. The musical team headed by Bombay Jayashri comprised, among others, L. Kishore Kumar (sitar), Ballesh (shehnai), T. Manonmani (sarangi) S. Ganapathi (percussion) Sumesh S. Narayanan (mridangam) and Manikaandan (dolki).

The defining quality of the production was its play of lights, conceptualised by Chitra Visweswaran and remarkably implemented by Murugan K. Fascinating was the episode of Kalinga Nartana, where the lights appropriately changed with every word of the sollus (syllables). Rare ragas were also used such as Pilu in ‘Maayi Mhaano supna ma’ and Patdeep in ‘Ali mhaane’.

The finale was well thought out, with each artist paying a tribute to Krishna, apart from bringing to the stage the entire cast.

The line drawings in black and white by V. V. Ramani that served as the backdrop and the simple costumes were the other highlights.

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