Photos: Lalitha Venkat
December 20, 2008
in his heart...
Guru C V Chandrashekar
describes his intimate sojourn with Tulsidas' Ramayana, which has actually
showed him the way to spiritual enlightenment. With a special fondness,
the guru sang the verses and elucidated the passion with which the poet
developed the epic. Illustrating examples, his daughter Manjari, staged
the scene of Manthara maneuvering the mind of Kaikeyi. Chandrashekar uses
Bharatanatyam idiom that tenderly embraces the Avadi poetry of Tulsi. The
maestro and his daughter concluded by cutting yet another episode from
Ramcharitamanas. In tune to the gentle verses, the duo with a simple yet
emotive choreography, dramatized "Mareecha Vadha."
classical Cambodia and lessons for the masses
As an extension
of yesterday's introduction into the dancing of Reamker (Ramayana) in Cambodian
classical dance, Sophiline Shapiro shed deeper light into the artistic
journey taken by the challenged few in an ever changing political scenario
of Cambodia. The dancing bastion brought in footage from a 1965 film shot
in France. Rama, Lakshmana and Sita, dressed dazzlingly in the typical
classical dance costume, set into the forest. The dancing style was almost
gliding with minimal hand gestures and gentle swirls. This effect of underwater
like performance got heightened as the monkey military entered the stage
with a rhythmic battle scene against the army of Ravana. The choreography
had its comic moments where Ravana in disguise comes to abduct Sita.
her lecture by introducing more such evil/comical characters which are
akin to our mythologies. For instance, Basmasura who begets a boon gets
consumed by Vishnu. In Cambodian mythology, Basmasura takes rebirth with
multiple heads and arms to avenge Vishnu once again!! The dancer, in fact,
compares the age old Ramayana legends to the present day political scenarios
in her country and its consequences - when power is given to ineligible
characters (establishing the fact that Ramayana or Reamker is not only
an art form in Cambodia but also a treatise to look into real life experience!).
in Kudiyattam is the best!
brought us one such gem in dramatizing Hanuman. He established the monkey
graces on stage as a prelude before actually donning the role of Hanuman.
It's all Hasya Rasa, when the monkey god wanders into the alluring landscape
of Lanka, searching for Sita. Hanuman's reactions at seeing an ongoing
musical concert at the palace was simply splendid! Wish we could see a
full length show of Ramayana in Kudiyattam. "It will take 365 days for
a complete staging of this great epic!" pat says Madhu!
performer Margi Madhu won over the hearts of the audience with his expressive
dramatization of the monkey god Hanuman. This is the best example of the
blending of Loka Dharmi (the natural expressions) and Natya Dharmi (stylized
depictions). The creative genius in the artist lies in the observation
of nature and stylizing the same in an art form. The age old Kudiyattam
carries this very simple mantra in their innumerable narratives that are
traditionally carried forward as choreographic gems.
all the way...
Led by Raghunath
Khandelker, the Abhang vocalists from Maharashtra staged a bhajan session
for the delight of the devout in the audience, as part of the fourth day
of Natya Kala Conference.
for every modern Indian
You will laugh,
you will celebrate and cry in this very version of 'Sitaayanam.' In her
animation film 'Sita Sings the Blues,' Nina Paley surprised the audience
with her witty interpretations of the much revered Ramayana and yet nowhere
does it hurt your sentiments. In fact, you will commiserate with her metaphorical
adaptation of Ramayana into her own life story. She amazingly blends popular
Hindu Ramayana images (from miniature paintings to calendar art) with newer
animated images of the characters. The blues almost haunt you, as Sita
adapts them into her experiences. She's in love, she loses her love, she's
pure and yet put to test once and again. She remains eternal in every woman
"Here we see
many dancers interpreting various characters from Valmiki Ramayana and
other versions in their dance. I would like to point out Padma Subrahmanyam's
quote that 'Rama is Sthitha Pragnya' while she herself depicted Rama weeping
around the forests in search of Sita and also when Lakshmana is in coma
and the like. Sthitha Pragnya is not Rama but Krishna - the one who is
static emotionally and is equanimous... I wonder why dancers and preachers
try once and again to sanitize their favourite gods in their interpretations
- V A K
Ranga Rao, Dance scholar
"This is the
best of Natya Kala Conferences ever..."
Sagar is a cultural commentator and critic based in Hyderabad.