Mahadevam Mahasenam Bhaje
- Priya Raman, Hyderabad

December 9, 2010

When Hyderabad brings Anitha Guha from Chennai to her home town, the twin cities, it does with all aplomb. The city and its art lovers gear up with all gusto to chance on the opportunity to watch this genius of creativity, choreography and presentation, a craftsman who crafts every stone into a diamond.

Kala Sagaram presented Anitha Guha's team in 'Mahadevam Mahasenam Bhaje,' a paradigm production with more than 50 artistes diverging from tiny tots to seasoned dancers, on November 28 at the Keyes High School, Secunderabad. 'Mahadevam...' was the story of Shiva, his consorts Dakshayani and Parvathi, and of Muruga, the charmer. We have all seen Shiva's tandava, his valorous acts of destruction, his dance in Chidambaram and so on but the same tandava can be as picture perfect, the dance can be a visual treat aesthetically and that Murugan can be depicted so beautifully is what we saw Anitha Guha's presentation unfold.

The first scene had Dakshayani pleading with Shiva to attend her father's Yagna, to which he refused consent, so Dakshayani disobeys and attends only to be embarrassed and burns herself! Shiva left alone, is framed by the gods as they commission Manmatha to spill the beans of love in Parvathi to entice Shiva. And 'All is well' as they dance and gel!

Shiva, Dakshayani and Parvati looked to be dropped straight off Kailasa, with impeccable stunning costumes, precise characterization and a very pleasing stage presence. All this coupled with perfect angashuddham, neat and elegant dancing. Kudos to even the young lads (girls!) as the Ganas for their araimandi matched to the least degree! The sakhis accompanying Parvathi also exhibited fine grace and synchronization.

Following this was the actual show stopper. Shiva and Parvathi dance as 'One', as 'We', as 'The Ardhanareeshwara' (in true terms). I cannot stop marveling at Guha's expertise for she had a duet with each dancer most sublimely using just one of their hands in a 10-odd minute piece. Absolutely impressive.

So, after all the flowery creation came the product Murugan! Aarumugan, the one with six faces. Guha intelligently cashed in on her USP of having kids who can dance as professionals. Six small children embodying the six faces of Muruga played, danced and won huge applause. The sequence of Muruga fighting Soora, the demon, to get his weapon and rooster was crisply adhered to, to make a perfect finale.

Guha had to excuse herself repeatedly to catch the night train back to Chennai because the audience just refused to get off their seats. Special mention also for the lighting personnel who did complete justice to the ballet, enhancing it eminently. A closed door auditorium with its acoustics would have been an icing on the cake.

Priya Raman is a Bharatanatyam dancer, who has been conducting interactive workshops on classical dance for school children as an Education Consultant with The Times of India - Newspaper in Education (NIE). Priya writes on dance and dance related issues in Ananya's monthly magazine, Abhivyakthi.