Manasi Pandya Raghunandan, Bangalore
Photos courtesy: Sanjali

April 20, 2011

Seven years has already passed since maestro Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra passed away. Responsible for the revival, preservation and promotion of Odissi, one of the most graceful dances of India, Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra had made incomparable efforts and lit the lamp of this dance form around the globe for its lovers and enthusiasts. Known for perfection and excellence in abhinaya and intricate choreographies of pure dance pieces, Guruji has left behind immense wealth for everyone associated with Odissi today. Across the globe, this down to earth man has plenty of fans, followers and students, who with their interest and passion for Odissi, have kept this wonderful man alive forever in their hearts.
In Bangalore, a tribute was paid to Guruji by popular Odissi dancer and teacher Sharmila Mukerjee, a senior student of Guruji and Director of Bangalore based institute Sanjali Centre for Odissi dance. Sharmila had invited Gurujis son and disciple Guru Ratikant Mohapatra, Director of Srjan, to join hands in paying tribute to Guruji. At ADA Rangamandira Auditorium, near the entrance, was a beautiful picture of Guruji decorated with flowers and the display board saw information about the artists of the evening as well as about the host institution. The stage was set with 6 ascending bells and one lamp in the centre, hanging down from the ceiling. The left side of the stage saw a beautiful 4.5 feet (approx) high picture of Guruji decorated with flowers along with a lamp stand by the side and a hanging bell, giving a temple like atmosphere. After the welcome speech by the students of Sharmila Mukerjee, the chief guest of the evening Padmini Ravi, Bharatanatyam exponent and teacher, offered flowers to Guruji and lit the inaugural lamp along with Ratikant Mohapatra and Sharmila Mukerjee. Other well known artistes such as Bhanumati, Lalitha Srinivasan and Chitra Dasarathy were also present on the occasion.

The program began with Sharmila Mukerjees solo invocatory piece “Shiva Stuti” set in the Mangalacharan format. The dancer was draped in a nice yellow costume and the beautiful music was set to Raag Madhuvanti and Ardhajumpha tala, a piece originally choreographed by Sanjukta Panigrahi. Sharmilas solo with neat balances, perfect tribhangs and good chaukas conveyed her talent as well as experience in the field.
Sharmila Mukerjee
students of Sanjali
The second presentation included a trio dance “Pallavi” from the traditional repertoire of Odissi. Set in Saveri Raag and ek taali, the piece was presented by the students of Sanjali. Originally choreographed by Guruji and crafted for the evening by Sharmila Mukerjee, the 3 dancers were draped in red and black colored costumes. It was nicely presented and was a correct choice as the second item of the evening.

Next was a solo by Ratikant Mohapatra, a Tulsidas bhajan on Lord Rama, the popular “Sri Ramachandra Kripalu Bhajamana.” It was set to Ragamalika and Jati and Adi tala. The music was composed by Pradeep Kumar Das and choreographed by Ratikant Mohapatra. It was nice to see multiple characters portrayed aptly by Ratikant Mohapatra, which spoke of his mastery of abhinaya and body language in dance required as per the various characters needs. Two episodes, one of Sita Swayamvara and the other of Rama-Ravana fight were beautifully projected. Through this piece, Ratikant Mohapatra proved his talent in choreography as well as presentation. At the end of his solo, he offered a shastang pranam to his Guruji / father.
Ratikant Mohapatra
Rajashri Praharaj
Next was a strong presentation by Rajashri Praharaj, a Pallavi set to Bhupeshwari Raga and adi tala for music composed by Pradeep Das and choreographed by Ratikant Mohapatra. Draped in a neat white and red costume, this fit and energetic danseuse presented this well practiced piece showcasing her immense capacity and knowledge in Odissi. Next was a Shiva Panchakshari Stotram, a duet presented by two young students of Sanjali. Great qualities of Lord Shiva were depicted. It was set to Rupaka tala and Behag raga. This piece was very well choreographed for a duet and the two dancers justified Sharmila Mukerjees good training capabilities. At the climax, beautifully coordinated poses and postures were depicted neatly by the flexible dancers.

The final presentation of the program was a duet by Ratikant Mohapatra and Rajashri Praharaj titled Jatayu Moksha taken from the Ramacharita Manas. It was in Ragamalika and Talamalika with music by Lakshmikant and choreography by Ratikant Mohapatra. The interesting entry on the stage by the dancers showcased Ravana bringing Sita, which was very well coordinated and promised depth in the item in the beginning itself. The highlight of the item was Ratikant Mohapatra portraying the struggle of the injured Jatayu in an excellent manner. Both dancers presented multiple characters and made the item appeal strongly to the audience.
Jatayu Moksha
Shiva Panchakshari Stotram
The program ended with a vote of thanks presented by Sharmila Mukerjee and an apt short speech by Ratikant Mohapatra. The program aptly titled Samsmaranam was a good opportunity for the Odissi lovers in Bangalore to observe these beautiful presentations.

A lecturer in English, Manasi (Pandya) Raghunandan is an Odissi and Bharatanatyam dancer, and a freelance writer based in Bangalore.