Masterly performance

Mohiniyattom dancers who do not hail from Kerala have often been criticised for their lack of exposure to the culture, ethos and language. However, many of them have brushed aside the criticism to emerge as some of the finest exponents of the art form. One of the best in the field is Bharati Shivaji.

She performed for the PJ Antony Memorial Foundation in Kochi. Her recital began with an item on `Balaganapathi' in Sourashtra raga. `Vanee Devi' in Neelambari was next. The term `mukhachalam' is borrowed from Kathakali. It is performed at the beginning of a performance and usually is a mix of ragas and talas. Bharati's disciple Sulini Nair performed the piece, which had her guru's stamp.

The recital peaked with an item from `Andal Thirupavai'. Two friends, devotees of Ranganatha, tell each other the noble acts of the Lord. Bharati absorbs the music and each gamaka, each jaru is essayed with exquisite grace. Her dance and the music blends and flows, each complimenting the other. This quality sets her apart from the multitude of dancers. Even great exponents of `abhinaya' may not always succeed in achieving this ideal fusion. Poothana's story was a fine depiction of guile and `vatsalya.' The famous poem of Andaal `Oruthi Maganai pirandu' was well essayed. So was `Ayyanayyan,' a piece on Malikapurathamma written by Kavalam Narayana Panicker, set to Mukhari raga. The piece could not have failed to touch the audience as the dancer depicted Malikapurathamma's anguish. With effortless grace Bharathi created a picture of a lush jungle filled with creepers.

`Ashtapadi' in Kedaragowla and Sri raga, followed. Bharati danced as though she was in a trance. It was a memorable experience for the audience.


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