Worthy effort

KURAVANJI HAS been part of the classical dance repertoire, as a type of dance-drama of Tamil Nadu, for as long as one can remember; it contains both classical and folk elements. The heroine, usually a princess, dances Bharatanatyam, while the kurathi (a gypsy woman) dons the folk role.

Tyagesar Kuravanji deals with the story of Rajamohini's yearning for Tyagaraja, the presiding deity of Tiruvarur. She finally achieves mukti, as predicted by Singi, the kurathi. This dance drama has been revived after nearly 70 years. Composed during the reign of Raja Sarfoji II, whose capital was Thanjavur, this was part of the annual festival of the Tiruvarur temple.

P.R. Tilakam, a grand-daughter of Tiruvarur Kamalam, has initiated its revival with help from Nandini Ramani. The production was staged recently on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Dr. V. Raghavan Centre for Performing Arts. The dance-drama was produced and directed by Nandini Ramani.

Urmila Satyanarayana as Singi, stole the show. She was delightful especially while bargaining with Rajamohini and when she displayed a stunned reaction when reading the palm of the princess. She brought life to the drama, which tended to sag a little. Roja Kannan as Singan did not have much to do in the actual story except wonder where his wife had gone and pretend to be angry when she returned with the gifts from the princess.

Jayanti Subramaniam as Rajamohini appeared quite regal and the costumes were appropriate; but she looked a little too matronly for the role of a young princess. Sushama Ranganathan was the Sakhi (friend) of the princess. The choreography by Nandini was commendable.

P.R. Tilakam sang the invocatory ``viruttam'' of the Kuravanji. The other singers were Sarayu Srinivasan and Hari Prasad. The latter was also in charge of the orchestration. The musical component really elevated the show to an enjoyable level. While Subhashini Chandrasekhar did the nattuvangam, the accompanists were Ramani on the veena, Kannan on the violin, A. Chandrasekhar on the mridangam and P.V. Ramana on the flute. The stage decor was by V.V. Ramani, who had created a kind of Devasraya mandapam as the backdrop. Costume designing was by Nandini and she deserves to be congratulated for that too.