Sare Jahan Se Accha

August 23, 2010

The rain gods seemed to have descended to watch the two-day Indian classical dance festival 'Sare Jahan Se Accha: Abhinaya the soul of dance,' which was inaugurated on August 11, 2010 at India Habitat Centre in the Capital, by eminent people from the art fraternity and also had the spiritual blessings of Chinmaya amma, who lit the ceremonial lamp with other dignitaries. The festival, conceptualized and designed by Ranjana Gauhar, an Odissi exponent and documentary film-maker, was organized by Utsav Educational and Cultural Society-Ranjana's Academy of Dance to commemorate the 63rd year of India's independence.

Utsav, Ranjana's academy of dance, which works for the preservation, promotion and propagation of India's traditional dance and music, paid a tribute to the martyrs of the freedom struggle through the magnificent facet of Abhinaya. It is a concept in Indian dance and drama literally meaning 'leading the audience towards a sentiment-a rasa.' The main purpose of Indian classical dance is to evoke this rasa and communicating this to the audience. Abhinaya, therefore, is the true essence of the art of dance. All the artists in the festival demonstrated this vital facet in their performances.

Ranjana Gauhar
Padma Subrahmanyam
The festival began with an invocatory item "Angikam-Bhubanam" from Nandikeshwar's Abhinaya Darpana in Raga Darbari, set to Taal Khemta by Ranjana Gauhar. The music for this has been composed by Bankim Sethi. This was followed by "Dancing footsteps in the rain-Jhuki Aye Badariya" on Raga: Megh, Tal: Jati, where Ranjana depicted the myriad expressions of joy in her inimitable style. The subtle nuances and dainty footwork was seen in the composition by Swathi Tirunal. "Ali main to Jamuna jal bharan gayi" based on Raga Saveri-Tal Triputa, was Ranjana Gauhar's concluding item for the day.

The renowned Bharatanrityam dancer Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam brought the stage alive by the depiction of three rasas, namely Shringara Rasa from Ramaya Tubhyam namaha, Vatsalya rasa where Yasodha is shown putting the infant Krishna to sleep, and Bhakti Rasa conveyed through the immortal lines Bhaja Govindam by Adi Shankara.

Pallavi Krishnan
Rani Khanam
Alekhya Punjala
On 12th August, the artists concluded the festival by keeping the audience virtually spellbound with their performances. Mohiniattam dancer Pallavi Krishnan started her performance with Ganapati Stuti, aAn invocatory piece in which the dancer seeks the blessings of Lord Vigneswara, set to Raga Puranir and Tala Adi followed by excerpts from Kalidasa's Vikramorvashiyam, composed in Ragamalika and Talamalika.

The second artiste of the evening, Dr Alekhya Punjala, one of the foremost exponents of both Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam, kept the audience in awe of her range of expressions. Since Kuchipudi is a dance drama technique, it gives a lot of scope for abhinaya. And so Alekhya began her performance with Shringar Rasa, based on a composition of Saint Annamacharya of the 14th century. It was followed by the Bhakti rasa, a composition of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal "Chaliye Kunjan Mo" in raga Sumanas Ranjani. The concluding piece in praise of Goddess Lalitambika brought out the raudra, bhayanaka and shanta rasa.

The last item of the evening saw the adayaki of Rani Khanam portrayed through Faiz Ahmed Faiz, "Aaiye haath uthaye ham bhi, Hum jinhe rasm-e- dua yaad nahi." This was followed by Thumri, a traditional presentation in Kathak, "Kou kaho jaye Itana sandesa" through the depiction of Bhav Batana. Lastly, Haqiqat-E-Husn (Nazm) of Alama Iqbal, a poem of Faiz portraying the eternal search of man for an identity and a Thumri, "Thare Rahiyo more Shyam…" reflecting all the sringar essence of Kathak was sensitively performed.

The Utsav Academy of Dance, thus, celebrated Independence Day through the art of expression while, the festival Sare Jahan se Accha saw some of the foremost classical dance artists of the country pay a befitting tribute to their motherland.