The buoyant Bhama

Yasodha Thakur performing 'Bhamakalapam' Photo: Nagara Gopal  

HYDERABAD: There are different modes of presentation of ‘Bhamakalapam’ in different parts of Andhra Pradesh, all based on Kuchipudi Bhamakalapam, the text written by sage Siddhendra, centuries ago. Based on that some folk forms of the same theme evolved like ‘Toorpu Bhagavatham’. Most of them find audience in rural areas. Those prominently seen are Kuchipudi Bhamakalapam, Bhamakalapam of Pithapuram, Toorpu Bhagavatham of Visakhapatnam area and the one being practiced by Devadasis, since ages. One notable feature is that the story line is the same for all, but with small changes like in narrating the reason why dispute arose between Krishna and Satyabhama. The one that is now in focus is Bhamakalapam in Devadasi tradition, especially the one presented by veteran artiste the late Annabathula Buli Venkataratnam, recipient of gold medal and honour from the erstwhile Sageet Natak Akademy headed by Nataraja Ramakrishna in the Seventies.

Today her grand-daughter Annabathula Manga Tayaru is practicing the art and trained Yashoda Thakore, noted Kuchipudi dancer. The result of this effort was a two-hour session of staging this ballet by Yashoda at Saptaparni last week with Manga Tayaru and her sister Leela Sai conducting the show. Accompanists were violinist Puranapanda Ganapathi Rao and mridangam artiste Yendamuri Subba Rao, both attached to this unit. Watching this was an experience in itself for those who are familiar with Kuchipudi Bhamakalapam for the reason we find changes in text used in dialogue while situation remains the same. The text for this Bhamakalapam was written by Atukuri Subbarayudu a century ago.

Yashoda’s portrayal of Satyabhama and her interaction with her sakhis Madhavi (Sirisha) and Champaka (Alekhya) were major attraction of this ballet. Hari Mangalampalli appeared in the brief role of Lord Krishna just fixing symbolically a peacock feather into his turban.

Before the ballet was staged, Prof. Devesh Soneji, who did research on the Devadasi system and their contribution to dance and music, detailed some aspects of the drama.

The presentation observed all the formalities of a Yakshagana presentation like Bhama brought on to the stage behind a curtain with two men holding torches on either side. The many daruvus the story moves through carry the basic element of the drama, further accentuated through repartees between Satyabhama and her Sakhis. Daruvus were similar to Kuchipudi style right from the opening Pravesa Daruvu Bhamane Satya Bhamane Bhama’s self introduction detailing her characteristic features, which are akin to what was written in Kuchipudi text. There was a daruvu related to this part woven in lighter vain. Presentation of the daruvu Sigggayene and the drama behind her husband’s name identification was another humorous interlude. There were jatis before every daruvu. Madana Mohanakarude, Jadato Kottaka Mananu- Bhama lashing Krishna with her plait and other sequences were well handled, at times with touch of folk element. Every daruvu was aptly presented by Yashoda. There was ‘mukkera’ (nose ring) sequence ending in Satyabhama rendering a verse quoting how precious and chaste mukkera is for a woman, was well handled. Allalla Vadu Hari Yemo daruvu was another interesting sequence showing how anxious Satyabhama is to meet her husband. Like in Kuchipudi Bhama Kalapam, there is a letter writing sequence too, Bhama addressing Krishna. But the text is different. Sirisha played interestingly her mischievous role as prime sakhi of Satyabhama. It was a curious and interesting production worth repeating, but on a vast stage.

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Printable version | Mar 5, 2021 9:59:51 PM |

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