Stage for artistic excellence

Sujatha Mohapatra performs Odissi at the Shivaratri festival at Vadakkunnnathan Temple,Thrissur Photo: K.K. Najeeb   | Photo Credit: k.k. najeeb

For eight days in succession the precincts of Sree Vadakkunnathan Temple, Thrissur, reverberated with devotion as eclectic performances of dance and music were staged as part of the annual Shivaratri festival.

Sujatha Mohapatra

The festival opened with an Odissi recital by Sujatha, accompanied by her disciple Soumya Bose. They opened with Mangalacharan in Puriya Dhanasree and ek taal. The highly synchronised movements added an extra grace to the nritta. Soumya performed the Pallavi in Hamsadwani as a solo. While the pure dance item was technically perfect, it would have been more aesthetic with suppler body movements and more pronounced tribhanga. Abhinaya by Sujatha described various anecdotes related to Krishna. The intrinsic beauty of tandava and lasya were discernible in ‘Ardhanareeswara’ presented as a duet. Prolonged jatis were the hallmark of ‘Moksha,’ a composition of Pandit Bhuvaneswara Mishra in Bhairavi (Sindhubhairavi), the last piece.

Manju Warrier

After a break of two decades the actor-dancer appeared on the Shivaratri stage and proved how she had transformed into an accomplished performer of Kuchipudi. Following the Vigneswara invocation she presented the pravesa dharu of Sathyabhama, an excerpt from the composition ‘Bhama Kalapam’ by Siddhendrayogi. The heroine’s self-introduction as the consort dearest to Krishna was captivating as Manju elaborated the character’s innate features with sancharis that included Palazhimadhanam. The nritta part was captivating with a string of jathis and chiselled adavus. With Neelakanta Sivan’s composition in Poorvikalyani and Rupakam she explained the dance of Lord Shiva with all its concomitant niceties. ‘Devi sthuthi’ was an obeisance to Parvathy and included anecdotes including her penance for Shiva and his appearance in disguise as a Brahmin to test her perseverance. As repeated chants of ‘Om sakthi’ rent the air in rising tempo, the dancer appeared in a state of trance.

‘Kiratham’ Kathakali

‘Kiratham’ is relatively minor one among Kathakali plays. But when Thrissur Kathakali Club presented it on stage, the play assumed a totally different dimension. The presentation extended to more than two hours as the main characters Kalamandalam Balasubramanian’s Kattalan and Kottakkal Kesavan Kundalayar’s Arjuna seemed to derive inspiration from an excited audience. The story narrates how Lord Shiva disguised as Kattalan and Parvathy as Kattalasthree, pricked the ego of Arjuna, who is engaged in penance for acquiring Pasupathastram from Shiva himself. Though the padams were very few, the presentation was highly theatrical, especially when Kattalan accompanied by Kattalasthree (Kottakkal Rajmohan) reached the stage from among the audience for their encounter with Arjuna. Balasubramanian’s funny gestures and vigorous movements won repeated applause on several occasions. The fight between Kattalan and Arjuna was in right measure.

Lavanya Ananth

Chennai-based Lavanya opened her Bharatanatyam recital with a traditional Pushpanjali set to Kalyani and Adi. The varnam ‘Modama intha velayil,’ a popular composition of K. N. Dhandayuthapani in Kharaharapriya and Adi, was well balanced in nritta and nrithya. But she could have made the nritta more attractive with varieties of adavus. Jathis were simple. Purandaradasa’s ‘Jagadodharana’ in Kapi brought her abhinaya skills to the limelight. She concluded with the Shiva tandava sthothram in ragamalika and talamalika; quite befitting a number as it delineated the power and beauty of Nataraja in full.

Sreelakshmi Govardhanan

Sreelakshmi treated the audience to the vivacious style of traditional Kuchipudi for which she is widely known. Nritta in the protracted Pushpanjali, an invocation to the goddesses and Ganesha, was suggestive of the vibrant facet of this genre. ‘Ardhanareeswaram’ was especially noteworthy for the illustration of the contrasting features of Shiva and Sakthi. The nritta sequences of Shiva’s tandava and Parvathy’s lasya was simply awesome as Sreelakshmi embellished them with a garland of jathis. A tarangam authored by Narayana Theertha described the antics of Krishna at different stages of his life. She took up rasaleela of Krishna and Gopika for sanchari. Sreelakshmi’s physical language while portraying them appeared more communicative than the sahithya itself. ‘Varukalamo Ayya’ of Subramania Bharati described the plight of Nandanar, whose ambition was to see the Lord of Thillai. She made it more theatrical with the entry of Nandanar by tapping his stick on the floor. Supported by the emotive rendition of the composition by Bijeesh Krishna in Manji raga, she created an ambience of fear, devotion and yearning with her bewitching abhinaya. Looking from behind a cover, the character receded leaving the audience awestruck.

U. Rajesh

The only Carnatic recital of the fete was by the mandolin maestro. The dynamic presentation demonstrated the musician’s mastery over the instrument as well as his concern for the nuances of ragas. A couple of notes he strummed was suffice to reveal the identity of the raga Hamsadwani. ‘Vinayaka,’ a composition in Adi, was followed by ‘Swaminatha paripalayamam,’ in Natta and Adi. Although it received only a short recital, the agility of his fingers as they swept over the strings at amazing pace was astounding. The alap of Abhogi was notable as the raga manifested through protracted single-finger movements over the first string, sans plucking. The composition was Subramania Bharati’s ‘Sabhapathikku vere daivam’ in Rupakam. The main raga Mohanam was explored in full and the composition was ‘Kapali’ in two kala, Adi. Tani by K. M. S. Mani (mridangam), Tripunithura Radhakrishnan (ghatam) and Kottayam Murali (morsing) revealed the harmony of percussion.

Meera Sreenarayanan

Meera enthralled the audience with her terpsichorean talents in her Bharatanatyam recital. The performance was marked by technical finesse that delineated the exquisite elegance of the dance form. A Vinayaka slokam in Vitapi received a neat exposé and the misra Alarippu that preceded it brought forth the structural beauty of adavus.

‘Aananda koothaadum paada malar’ described the beauty of Shiva’s Ananda Tandavam. Interestingly, it was composed in five Yatis of the dasa pranas of tala. Rarely seen on Bharatanatyam stages, Yatis embody rhythmic patterns depending on the sequences of the angas in a rhythm. They included ‘Sama’, ‘Mridanga’, ‘Damaru’, ‘Gopuchcham’ and ‘Srotowha.’.Intricate rhythmic flourishes were executed with amazing precision. Beginning with an extensive puja to Shiva, she interpreted the Abhogi composition of Gopalakrishna Bharati, ‘Sabhapathikku.’ She concluded with ‘Tandavamadum paadane’ in Hamsanandi.

Leena Malekar Vij and Purnima Roy Chowdhari

The festival concluded with a graceful Kathak performance by the duo. After an invocation to Shiva, Nrit in teen Taal was presented ecstatically with Thaat, Tihai, and Amad. Dasavathar, a solo by Purnima, was an exposition of her abhinaya. It was set to ragas Shankara and Hamsadwani and Jhap Taal (10 beats). ‘Harihara Sankara’, a duet, brought forth the unity of Vishnu and Shiva in rag Bahaar, teen Taal. Leena’s ‘Krishnaleela’ vividly delineated the childish pranks of Krishna. The duo’s Ardhanareeswara in raga Sankara and teen taal was captivating. They wrapped it up with a Tarana based on Bagashree and Jhap Taal. The interpretation of rhythm separately done by the two ascended to a climax as they entered into a jugalbandhi that won wild applause from the audience.

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 12:56:38 PM |

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