Sujatha Nair's scintillating performance
- A Seshan, Mumbai
Photos: Girish Nambiar

September 26, 2010

Sujatha Nair, daughter and disciple of Jayashree Nair, one of the leading gurus in Mumbai, gave a scintillating performance of Bharatanatyam (BN) based on the traditional Margam at the Mysore Association Auditorium near King's Circle, Matunga, on September 18, 2010. She is a highly gifted artiste having had full-fledged training in Mohiniattam and Odissi also, besides learning a few lessons in Kuchipudi and Kathakali. Further she is taking advanced lessons in Carnatic music. With such talents it is not surprising that she has mastered the idiom of dancing.

The program commenced with "Gajavadana" in Sriranjani and Adi tala, a composition of Papanasam Sivan. Sujatha danced to the following songs.
Mallari, Gambhira Nattai, Tisra Triputa followed by a sloka "Ganga Taranga" in praise of Lord Shiva.
"Krishna nee begane baro," Yamunakalyani, Misra Chapu, Vyasaraya.
"Ninne nera nammi naanura," Varnam, Atana, Adi, Turaiyur Rajagopala Sarma.
"Padakindi," Mohanam, Misra Chapu, Muvanallur Sabhapati Iyer
"Netru varen entru," Pantuvarali, Misra Chapu, Subbarama Iyer
"Kshanamaduna," 23rd Ashtapadi, Dwijavanti, Misra Chapu, Jaidev
Tillana, Kathanakutuhalam, Adi, Balamurali Krishna.

The total impression that one got at the end of the program was that Sujatha with a charming stage personality is a thorough professional. She executed some karanas effortlessly in the Siva Stuti. Some of the adavus like Nattu Adavu, Tattadavu and Mandi Adavu were models of perfection. Her Sarukkal Adavu and Utplavanas were artistic and well done. The quicksilver expressions on face were impressive. Her depiction of the vismaya (wonder) of Yashoda on seeing the universe in the mouth of child Krishna illustrated her abhinaya skills in "Krishna nee begane baro." The varnam of Rajagopala Sarma depicted Krishnavatara and covered episodes like Krishna stealing butter, the killing of Kamsan and so on until the Geetopadesam on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. The portrayal of the awe-inspiring Viswaroopa of Krishna was appreciated by the audience. She did full justice to all aspects of the varnam, dancing for about 45 minutes.

The padam in Mohanam dealt with a Mugdha nayika on the threshold of adulthood and love. She danced occasionally to violin. The Pantuvarali piece is about a Vipralabdha nayika who waits interminably for her nayaka to keep his word to meet her. She complains that he promised to see her on the previous day. But the night has passed, the moon has disappeared and the sun is rising. People are going about their daily routine. But the truant nayaka is yet to be seen. While pining for her lover a la Virahotkanthita nayika, she is also in the Kalahantarita mood preparing to give a good tongue-lashing to the nayaka when he makes his appearance. All the three faces of the nayika came out well. The sanchari bhavas on "Netru varen enru" showed myriad expressions on the face illustrating her anguish. The line "Aatrankarainile" was in rati sringara as it recalled the dalliance of the nayika with her lover on the banks of the river. It was done in a tasteful and restrained manner. The Dwijavanti piece saw Sujatha dancing to violin and flute. The tillana became the grand finale of the evening. This popular piece in Kathanakutuhalam with complex jatis was performed with joi de vivre with suddha nrittam thrown in for a good measure producing real kutuhalam (joy) in the audience.

Steadiness in sthanaka, authentic araimandi, clarity in hastamudra and azhuttam in teermanam were the outstanding features in the dance. Her command of laya was particularly evident in the Misra Chapu pieces. Many artistes, even seniors, limit themselves to the easy Adi tala. It was satisfying that it was pure BN without alien elements being brought in despite her training in other dance forms mentioned earlier. I have seen artistes trained in both BN and Odissi unconsciously take on, for example, the tribhangi pose while doing BN. Sujatha has a bright future in the profession.

There was a live orchestra that contributed to the success of the program. The members were: Vocal and nattuvangam: Jayashree Nair, vocal: Saraswati Subramaniam, mridangam: P R Chandran, violin: Ravi, flute: Hema Balasubramanian.

The rasikas in the near-full auditorium left with the satisfaction of having spent a weekend evening usefully. As they left, they received surprise gift packets of eatables and tetrapaks of fruit juice that came in handy for this writer because, at that hour, the restaurants were full of the holiday crowds celebrating the Ganesh Chaturthi.

The author, an Economic Consultant in Mumbai, is a music and dance buff.