The beloved sakhi

January 08, 2015 06:43 pm | Updated 06:43 pm IST

Shwetha Prachande. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan

Shwetha Prachande. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan

The sakhi, the nayika's friend, is a fascinating prototype in Bharatanatyam. Commonly, she is unquestioning, accessible and full of gumption. She patiently listens to the nayika's woes of love and in that becomes the poet's primary audience. On other occasions, she takes the initiative to reach out to the nayaka with the nayika's message, thereby becoming the poet's voice.

The audience at Shweta Prachande's dance recital witnessed these two prototypes of the sakhi. In 'Sumasayaka', the varnam in Karnataka Kapi, Rupaka talam, a composition of Swati Tirunal, Shweta essayed the role of the sakhi who beseeches Lord Padmanabha to grant his presence to relieve her friend, the nayika from her lovelorn languorousness. This was followed by 'Paruvaranal Varasolludi,' a padam in Mukhari, misra chapu talam, a composition of Subbarama Iyer, where the sakhi patiently listens as the Parakiya nayika sends instructions to be delivered to her lover through the sakhi.

Shweta, a student of Priyadarsini Govind and Sucheta Chapekar, is a fine dancer with a compelling stage presence. Handling both nritta and abhinaya portions with ease, Shwetha was organised, in control and confident on stage.

Arun Gopinath, vocalist for the recital, began the evening with the standard invocation, 'Mahaganapatim' in Nattai. Though, an oft heard composition, the alapana he rendered was beautiful.

Shweta began her recital with an alarippu in misra chapu which had verses of the Thiruppavai interspersed in it. While Arun sang the verses set in Shanmukhapriya with clarity, Shweta stuck to the tricky beat of the alaripu well. For the audience though, despite the fact that both the vocalist and the dancer were performing their respective roles rather well, it was a bit tiring to keep up with the piece.

The spotlight was on Shweta during the varnam. Her abhinaya was nuanced and earnest. But, what was really fascinating was the manner in which she performed the nritta portions. Each jati was different and challenging. The padam that followed, brought out the best in Shweta’s abhinaya. As the Parakiya nayika, a married woman who is in love with Lord Muruga, she was brave as well as grossly aware of the consequences of her actions. The padam was essentially a message to Muruga to come if he is willing to.

Shweta handled sequences of the nayika speaking about the tantrums of her husband; that she would become the topic of gossip, etc., with maturity and subtlety.

The next piece was the famous devarnama, ‘Adahodalle Makkalu,’ (Ragamalika, Purandaradasa). As the young Krishna, Shweta’s portrayal of the innocence of the child, along with all the worries that plagued him was pleasing.

She concluded the recital with a thillana in Behag, Adi talam. N. Shikhamani on the violin, stood out in this piece and the musical dialogue between him and the dancer was delightful. K.S.Balakrishnan on the nattuvangam, accompanied Shweta well. Saktivel Muruganandan on the mridangam was exceptional in the alaripu, varnam and thillana. In fact, especially, in the thillana, the mridangam induced pauses were poignant and added to the overall appeal of the piece.

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