Thematic Theatre

It was a bumpy ride

Aranganin Padhayil. Photo: M. Moorthy  

The bedecked, bejewelled image of the utsavamurthy of Lord Ranganatha and the Ubaya Nachiars carried on an aesthetically crafted palanquin (visualised and created by Soundararajan) was the show- stopper.

The show was Darshanam Art Creations’ ‘Aranganin Padhayil’, which was premiered at Narada Gana Sabha.

The impact of this image was so strong that the majority of the rasikas felt transported to Srirangam.

The production which used LED projections along with dance sequences highlighted an interesting and not-so-well-known story.

It traced the journey of Lord Ranganatha, during the 48 years between 1323 A D and 1371 A D who had to escape the invasion led by Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq to conquer and plunder the temples of the South.

Protected and carried away by His devotees through the southern peninsula, the travails of these devotees were incorporated into the production, which banked on considerable research and background work by Asha Krishnakumar and Dushyanth Sridhar aided by historical inputs from Chithra Madhavan.

Often, it’s a healthy matrimony between ideation and conceptualisation on one hand, and visualisation and effective communication on the other that leads to a successful collaboration.

The hard work in researching not only historical evidence but also ancient compositions prior to 13th century for music got diluted during its translation on stage.

‘Technology meets tradition’ -- that seemed to be the focal point of this show. The use of LED bulbs instead of oil and wick, for the customary lighting of the lamp looked incongruous, especially for a theme based on tradition.

The two streams -- the audio visual projection on screen and the dance narrative -- were continuously moving along parallel tracks. The screen traced the journey through maps and footprints leaving a mark as the image moved from one place to another, photographs of the temples in those places, and silhouettes of invaders enhanced with effective soundscape.

The dance sequences were interspersed with the visual segments.

Despite the effort and hard work put in by the group of dancers, it did not make an impact because of the choreographic style. Following a formula-ridden path, with folk dances, off white saris and kaikottikali to show Kerala, madisars and temple festivities, monkeys for comic relief, the lack of conviction in the portrayals and the dancers constantly moving in and out of the stage got a little tiring.

Talented dancers such as Roja Kannan, Priya Murle, N. Srikanth and Ashwathy had no major role to play and were, for most part, lost in the crowd.

There was no sequence of intensity in the proceedings which would act as an anchor in the storytelling, and maybe strike an emotional chord with the viewers.

Therefore, both in terms of the musical score (Dr. Rajkumar Bharathi) and the choreography, it was routine stuff.

Additional care in styling, draping and colour coordination would have enhanced the visual appeal of the costume.




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Printable version | Oct 16, 2021 3:16:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/arangayin-padhayil-a-bumpy-ride/article7282095.ece

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