Friday Review

Not quite it!

From the performance

From the performance

It was festival with a difference. Mounted by Takshila Educational Society, at Patna’s College of Arts and Craft, the three-day event was marked by unusual features. The overwhelming enthusiasm and organisational fanfare apart, there was no VIP presiding over any evening with weary lamp lighting formalities! The aesthetically appointed stage was only for the artists and the professional Hindi compere, whose statements were confined to essential details. The large audience mostly seated ‘baithak’ style in the open air, with chairs in the rear for those unable to squat, was invariably settled 15 minutes before the proceedings each evening. And during the programmes, the unflagging concentration experienced in the entire gathering was astonishing!

Here was a festival for music lovers without the gloss of any flamboyance.The only dance event of the festival on the concluding day, “Tridhara”, with three classical forms — Kathak, Odissi and Bharatanatyam sharing stage space in a suite of items — was a repeat of what this critic had seen two evenings earlier at the Meghdoot Theatre for SNA’s music and dance festival for Delhi International Arts Festival. The only change was that the trio of dancers Malti Shyam (Kathak), Kavita Dwibedi (Odissi) and Jayaprabha Menon (Mohiniattam) in the SNA presentation had, in the Takshila version the first two with Ragini Chandrasekhar (Bharatanatyam) substituting Jayaprabha Menon.

Right from the starting “Bho Shambo” in Revati, a composition of Swami Dayanand Saraswati, chemistry amongst three dancers was missing with the decibel level of music raised to a point where it stung the ears. What the SNA authorities had balanced so correctly, making music (comprising one vocalist and instrumentalists and percussionists traditional to different forms of dance) — one of the highlights of the evening, became a loud jumble of unclear sounds with a few in the audience walking out unable to bear the audio level. All three dancers being of proven calibre, one was more concerned about the togetherness and meeting of minds in each item. One must admit to the description of nirguna and saguna grandeur of Shiva as expressed in the opening ‘Bho Shambho’, creating a much greater impression in the version at Meghdoot. Each of the dancers had created small but significant solo spaces without disturbing the integrity of the item.

The second item “Nava Vrindavan”, based on verses of Vidyapati, was a mix of the interpretative and the rhythmic (which for some reason tended to be excessive, as compared to the earlier version) with each dancer cast as one type of classical nayika. If Malti was the Abhisarika, her dance expressing all the hope of a joyous interlude with beloved Krishna while blooming Nature all round beckoned to lovers, the same images of courting and love aggravated the pangs of separation in the virahini — in this case Ragini. And the signs of such joy in union were spurned by the angry jilted khandita who in this case was Kavita. Three nayikas in simultaneous response, differently reacting to the same lines in the lyric according to the individual situation, was interesting to see, though one felt that in the nritta interludes the performers lost balance. Ragini’s teermanams tended to be over long – though well executed. It seemed that each musician was trying to be heard above all the others. And what with Shankar (Aiyappan’s) high pitched nattuvangam and the authoritative mridangam by Tanjavoor Keshavan, Ragini’s solo sequences, which should have been tightly knit punctuation points, tended to overwhelm. And Suresh Sethi’s music so melodious at Meghdoot grated on the ears with the uneven sound balancing. Prafulla Mangaraj’s Pakhawaj percussion and recitation of ukkutas were fine. Malti suffered in not having anyone for parhant, and she had to fall back on a nagma type of musical refrain while doing her nritta — which with the foot mikes too soft to be heard above the multitude of sounds, lacked the usual impact. The Natabhairavi tarana, a composition of late Ravi Shankar, a melodiously rhythmic item, was set such a tempo by the nattuvangam that some dancers seemed to be running to stay with the pace.

The large turnout enjoyed the dance event despite the drawbacks.

But, for those who had seen such an effective earlier version, the evening was disappointing.

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Printable version | Jun 26, 2022 10:21:27 pm |