Decoding the Goddess

Revathi Ramachandran. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam .  

Long after senior Bharatanatyam dancer Revathi Ramachandran’s performance, my ears rang with the sublime music created by Preethy Mahesh (vocal), J.B. Srutisagar (flute) and Veeramani (violin). Though the selection of songs had a lot to do with the musical richness, Preethy invested each piece with full-throated singing that was delicate at the same time, as she lightly touched every note in a graceful flow. The flautist was inspired to reach for the stars, while the violinist kept the melody steadily anchored.

Revathi opened with a magnum opus that lasted more than 30 minutes; it was a non-stop compilation of Pushpanjali (Nalinakanti), a Devi sloka from Shyamala Dandakam (Maanikya Veenam’) and the Dr. Balamuralikrishna padavarnam (‘Amma Anandadaayini,’ Gambiranattai, Adi). The gati-bedam pushpanjali was rigorous, no more, as the dancer perhaps prepared for more to come.

The pallavi, ‘Amma…’ referring to the universal mother, Jaganmaatha Ambal, has an evocative tune reflecting due reverence. With Preethy’s melodious repetitions and a short tanam laying a foundation of poignancy, Revathi depicted animals, pancha bhoothas and the cycle of birth and death as manifestations of the goddess. Taking off from the ‘navarasa’ description of the goddess in the mukthayi sahitya, a sloka from Sivananda Lahiri on Ambal’s emotions was introduced.

As moving as the first half was, the charana section was contrastingly peppy. Inbuilt in the ‘Shive Shive Shive…’ charana was a rhythm that was magnified through the fast-moving arudi and the sanchari when Siva was compared to the colour of the lotus in a pond and Ambal to the shape of a blue lily growing in it. Misra, tisra and khanda beats dominated the swaras and the artists took utmost pleasure enhancing this rhythm.

Manasvini, daughter and disciple of Revathi, handled the cymbals. She is such a natural that performing the nattuvangam was effortless and even mechanical. During the first long jathi of the varnam, both M.S.Sukhi (mridangam) and Manasvini were enhancing the gaps in unison, while simultaneously guiding Revathi.

The dancer exerted herself well, her long-limbs accentuating the lines; especially notable was the ‘thalangu’ jump that ended in a muzhu mandi.

‘Bhavayami Gopala Balam’ (Yamunakalyani, khanda chapu, Annamacharya) was the only non-rhythm piece that day. While the feats of those ‘lotus feet’ were highlighted, such as Mahabali’s subjugation, Ahalya’s bringing back to life, etc, the story of Krishna supposedly looking for a missing calf in the butter pot was most amusing.

Revathi finished with an ‘original’ Shudha Nrittam composition that used to be performed during festivals as part of the Shodashopachara when the deity is taken out in procession, and the wonderfully rhythmic ‘Deena Karunakarane Nataraja’ (Behag, Adi, Papanasam Sivan). The music lingers on...

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 4:40:22 PM |

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