Think Sanskrit and the name that springs to mind at once is that of the immortal poet, Kalidasa. His deep understanding of the human mind and emotions has been effectively conveyed through epics such as Sakuntalam and Malavikagnimitra. However, his mastery over the language is best experienced in ‘Meghadootam,’ the lyrical work that, in over 2,500 years, has lost none of its poignancy, beauty, or relevance. This is the story of an exiled Yaksha who pines for his Yakshi, and calls upon a cloud to carry his message of love to her.
The Cleveland Cultural Alliance, spearheaded by Uma Ganesan, is now attempting to bring forth the beauty of the Sanskrit language and Kalidasa’s poetic ‘love letter’ as an operatic ballet titled ‘Meghadootam: The Cloud Messenger,’ on July 26 and 27, 6.30 p.m., at The Music Academy.
Says Uma, “The idea actually came from my husband Balaganesan, who loves Sanskrit, and had suggested nearly two years ago that to our friend Bombay Jayashri Ramnath that we do ‘Meghadootam.’ That set us thinking and so we set out to bring Kalidasa on stage.” Uma hopes that this effort, which took almost two years to make, will revive some interest in an extremely beautiful language that is Sanskrit, and she acknowledges the deep involvement of the late Dr. S. Revathy, professor and HOD, Sanskrit, University of Madras, at every stage. “She was such an inspiration. We have dedicated this production to her.”
Composing music for this operatic ballet was unique and exciting for Jayashri. “The show is a tribute to Dr. S. Revathy, who spent hours explaining every nuance, every layer of the verses. I discovered a beautiful language all over again, thanks to her.” Jayashri was also guided by Swami Dayananda Saraswati, whose insights into the language and the text proved invaluable.
The music is free flowing, says Jayashri. “What is amazing is that the verses have an intrinsic musical capacity. So composing was quite a facile exercise. The tunes have been kept minimalistic to showcase Sanskrit.” Jayashri has vocal support from Satyaprakash and several youngsters, including a few of her students. The sound design is by Biju James.
Kalidasa’s verses have been interpreted through the Bharatanatyam idiom by dancers Shijith Nambiar and Paravthy Menon. Says the couple, “Our first task was to create a script. Dr. Revathy helped us choose the verses which would be suitable for dance. The verses not only describe separation and longing, but also the grandeur of Nature. In a way, the theme is a dialogue between Prakriti and Purusha. We have used that to choreograph the pieces.”
For Jayashri, working with the Nambiars was a gratifying experience. “We moved into each other’s spaces to create something that gives you a peek at a beautiful world.” The costume is designed by Lakshmi Srinath and the technical director is Victor Paulraj.
Presented by AIM for SEVA (in aid of Rural Education in India), ‘Meghadootam…’ is sure to bring Kalidasa and Sanskrit back into the limelight.
Music Director: Bombay Jayashri Ramnath
Choreography: Shijith Nambiar and Parvathy Menon
Production: Cleveland Cultural Alliance
Costume Design: Lakshmi Srinath
Technical Director: Victor Paulraj
Dancers: Shijith Nambiar, Pavithra Srinivasan, Aarabhi Badri, Bhavajan Kumar, Sudharma Vaithiyanathan
Sharanya Varma, Bhagyalakshmi, Season Unnikrishnan, Jayakrishnan.
Musicians: Bhavani Prasad (veena), Karthikeyan (mridangam), Naveen Iyer (flute), S. Ganapati (Pakhawaj and tabla) and Embar Kannan (violin).
Priced: Rs. 5000, Rs.2000, Rs.1000, Rs. 500 (Balcony Rs. 200)
At The Music Academy from July 20, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Call: 95000 60153 or 24987955 for details.