Off the mark


ODE TO A GURU An Odissi performance in honour of Kelucharan Mohapatra.

ODE TO A GURU An Odissi performance in honour of Kelucharan Mohapatra.  

This year, the 11th year of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Awards, the three-day festival was strangely off-colour. The primary reason was that the cultural items, barring a few exceptions, never rose to certain standard. Moreover there was no big name as guest this year and thus the festival was robbed off the element of glamour that had got associated with it over the years.

In fact the festival began rather indifferently with Reela Hota's Odissi dance recital. Neither the choreography, supposedly innovative nor Reela's performance was impressive. In fact the first evening looked up a little with Odissi vocalist Bijaya Kumar Jena's programme. But it is time Odissi musicians spared some thought to the practice of doing long alaaps and punching the rendition with unnecessary sargams in a bid to make it sound more classical. This definitely is telling upon the sweetness of Odissi numbers that lay a premium on bhav.

The most outstanding performance on the first evening was Niladri Kumar's sitar recital. The second evening began with Manas Ranjan Sarangi's mardal recital in aditaal. But the ambience got charged up once the seasoned performer Uma Dogra took the stage. Paying tribute to the late Guru Kelucharan she came up with an emotion-charged performance. Her abhinaya-Dagar binu kaise chalun and the concluding piece sabari Kab aaoge mere raam took the dancing skill to a pitch and emotion to a crescendo. Kalinath Mishra on the tabla and the melodious Shailendera Bharati on vocal gave her excellent support.

Anuradha Pal's brilliant tabla recital on teen taal struck one as a trifle triffle faint because Uma had taken it to an insurmountable height.

The concluding days when awards were given away to Guru Raghunath Dutta (dance), Kashinath Sahoo (theatre), Rakhal Mohanty (music) and Surendra Sahu (cinema) had Guruji's widow Laxmikanta Mohapatra and his son Ratikanta Mohapatra on stage. After a short Kathakali item by P.N. Venkitraman it was time for Odissi. Ratikanta and his wife Sujata Mohapatra did a piece, dance drama Jatayu Moksha from the Ramayana. A talented dancer like Sujata had little to do in that composition.

The opening Odissi item choreographed on Aruna Sairam's well-known song Allah Allah was gimmicky stuff being nothing more than a basic mangalacharan with its basic movements and posturing. Artistes of Srjan presented this as well as the last item that made the stage look terribly crowded with more than twenty dancers going through the pace.

It is a pity that Odissi performances were not of the level where they could be aptly called a fitting tribute to the late Odissi maestro.

While dance drama is all right, traditional Odissi items like a solo pallavi by a competent disciple of Guruji could have raised the standard any day.

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