Dance

From lover to mother

Sadanam K. Harikumar and Troupe. Photo: S. S. Kumar  

Taking artistic license with the popular Vyasa version of the Urvashi-Arjuna encounter in the Mahabharata, Dr. Sadanam K. Harikumar of the Gandhi Seva Sadan Kathakali Academy, Palakkad, scripted and presented ‘Shaapa Mochanam’ with his troupe from Kerala.

Urvashi’s declaration of her attraction to Arjuna and the description of her passion-filled dream were the starting points of the narration. The ideas expressed through the dance-drama were poetic -- take for example, her friends telling Urvashi, ‘Make your eyebrows like a bow, your eyes like the kuvalaya flowers and shoot love darts at him!’ Or when Urvashi is setting out to meet Arjuna, she anxiously asks of her friends, ‘What are the clouds saying? What is the breeze saying?’ A sample reply, 'The smell of your hair will make him collapse!'

The manipravalam language used was also poetic, describing Arjuna’s ‘Ranna tandava’ literally translated as ‘war dance’ referring to his valour in battle, or referring to him as a ‘manasa choran’ as ‘one who stole my heart.’

The one and a half hour show was an abridged version (they still overshot the time limit), yet the narrative flowed at an easy pace. Romance blossoms between the star-crossed lovers as they spend tender moments together in heaven. All of a sudden Arjuna realises Urvashi’s identity, as the one who was married to one of his ancestors, Pururavas. He tries to excuse himself and insults her to get away when an angry Urvashi curses him to lose his manliness. Arjuna laments, ‘Maate Aruluga Shaapa Mosham’ calling her a mother. Urvashi melts at this and reduces the curse to a year and cradles him tenderly on her lap; this time as a mother with her son.

That the actors could switch moods so easily, proved their mettle: Sadanam Srinath (Urvashi) and Kalanilayam Balakrishnan (Arjuna) were the stalwarts. They were supported by a skilful team comprising Sadanam Harikumar and Sadanam Shivadas (singers), Sadanam Ramakrishnan (chenda) and Sadanam Devadas (maddalam).

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2021 8:26:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/dance/from-lover-to-mother/article2777623.ece

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