Seshadri Iyengar delights Delhites!
- Ashish Mohan Khokar, Bangalore
Photos: Avinash Pasricha

August 18, 2010

Habitat, New Delhi: Stein is a big hall, difficult to fill even by the best of names. On a day when three other events competed with this unpublicised dance show by one of Bangalore´s best Bharatanatyam dancers, Dr. Seshadri Iyengar, a palpable energy manifested on and off stage. In the hall sat three generations of dancers of the form: iconic Yamini Krishnamurthy, understated Kanaka Srinivasan and organiser-dancer Prathibha Prahlad. Add ace photographer Avinash Pasricha and editor of arts pages of The Hindu, Delhi edition, Anjana Rajan, and smattering of young dancers like Radhika Ganju, Jyoti Shrivastava and Ambika Paniker, so the show was special.

It was special because a male soloist, who has striven hard and stuck to muse, chose to show his best side to all: bhakti laden varnam denoting a mischievous and playful Krishna and a bhajan on Ram where Shabari´s devotion came through convincingly. The concluding "Idadhu padam tooki aadum," was performed with elan. The malari was a bit laboured. Although the adavus looked unfinished, the overall quality of dance was exquisite.

Seshadri is rather transparent, even if he trudges his own path. A path paved by sincere dancer-teacher Padmini Ravi, who learnt from KJ Sarasa, who acquired the art from Ramaiah Pillai. No wonder Kanaka Srinivasan put in a rare appearance and spoke sincerely, as did Yamini Krishnamurthy who said, "This boy is blessed! He has style and substance and it is a delight to see him dance so effortlessly." Need more be said?

Seshadri held an impromptu interaction after the show. Delhi audiences generally don't like surprises, not least when they have to think and speak without planning, so the exercise was lukewarm though Yamini Krishnamurthy took the lead and instead of asking questions, blessed the "blessed boy" saying his technique was perfect and his abhinaya was excellent. Kanaka had left before the program ended and young musician Manik, student of the reputed Shanti Hiranand, asked why Seshadri had chosen only bhakti infused items.

For this critic-historian, Seshadri's metier IS bhakti and that evening, he came into his own. The angularity of the Ramaiah Pillai style, its jerks and jumps, all good and appealing for cinema, does not do justice to the softness and suppleness of Seshadri's bhakti style. Music was of high merit. The compere was very affected!

Reputed critic-historian-editor of attendance, Ashish Mohan Khokar takes time off from dance-related projects ongoing in many cities, to take note of special events and festivals in India.