Tagore's touch to Carnatic tunes

Dr. Thankamani Kutty with West Bengal Governor M. K. Narayanan at the ‘Dakhina Pabane' programme. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Tagore had the genius of adapting melodies and tunes from varied musical sources, be it Indian or Western, to compose beautiful songs by garlanding them with his lyrics. He had used the Carnatic musical phrasing influenced by the kritis as also some of their tunes to create some very appealing numbers.

‘Dakhina Pabane' by Kalamandalam at The Rabindranath Tagore Centre, ICCR, Kolkata, traced these sources through a song and choreographic sequence supported by an audiovisual presentation. Out of the 11 songs composed, which showed the influence of Carnatic bhajans, only five were presented.

The influence was essentially from three sources: Tagore's niece Sarala Devi who had resided in Mysore for several years and had taken the ‘Mohisuri' tunes from there, Savitri Govinda Krishnan of Adyar and elder brother Satyendranath's daughter, Indira Devi.

Soulful singing

The programme, which was attended by the Governor of West Bengal, .M. K. Narayanan, began with the bhajan, ‘Kawri Shri Gauri' by the acclaimed Carnatic vocalist from Kolkata, Sukumar G. Kutty. He distilled the spiritual essence of bhakti rasa with his soulful singing while balancing the fine group choreography.

Swagathalakshmi Dasgupta's dignified voice took up the often heard hymn ‘Anandaloke Mangalaloke' composed by Tagore in the same tune. The serenity of this number from the Puja section, based on the bhajan is commonly adapted as a prayer and was first sung at the Maghotsav. It was conveyed competently by the dancers with subtle steps adorned with crisp Bharatanatyam motifs embracing pure dance and neat formation.

This was the trend followed in rest of the items. The choreographed numbers complemented the original Carnatic bhajans first, followed by Tagore's version (Rabindrasangeet). Guru Dr. Thankamani Kutty's compositions were endowed with consummate classicism in the attitudes embracing the Bharatanatyam and Mohiniattam styles, both in nritta, nritya and abhinaya. There were not many deconstructions of adavus, but the innovative combinations of high aesthetic value created poetic imagery with her jati compositions and intriguing patterns of rhythm to adorn the songs.

Malabika Sen's imagery of ‘Labanye Ramadanya' was brilliant and was followed by a pleasing choreographed ‘Eki Labanye Purna Pran.' The flavour of Shankaravaranam in ‘Naad Vidya Parambrahmarasa' resonated with the dance as did the projections of dramatic thought in the Rabindrasangeet, ‘Biswabina robey,' which has a wonderful combination of several talas (talpherta). The use of space in this piece was praiseworthy.

Malabika Sen was stunning in ‘Meenakshi Me Mudam'. The pauses and the lateral halts with impassionate glances showed a quality of grandeur in her execution. The corresponding Bengali one, ‘Basanti Hey, Bhobanamohini' was interestingly woven with ‘Nitu Charanamuley' and ‘Baajey Karunasurey' (a fine solo by Malabika ), to portray the episode of Sita Haran from Ramayana. The short dramatic piece was significant not only for the convincing performance but for the good teamwork and neat movements by competent dancers.

The alapana by Sukumar G. Kutty in ‘Nitu Charanamuley' was notable for its tonal beauty and dramatic effect. The narration by noted media personality, Barun Chanda, was scripted by Debashish Roy, music direction as by Swapan Pakrashi and the production was conceived by Somnath G. Kutty. Although the high point of the production was the singing and the choreography, the multimedia effects were disappointing.

There were stills from Tagore's own productions but it could have been better arranged. Also, how does the flying owl on the video screen at the beginning of the presentation connect with ‘Dakhina Pabane' ?

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Printable version | Nov 25, 2020 4:02:33 PM |

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