Chitra Purvanga
- Nita Vidyarthi, Kolkata

November 28, 2011

Kalamandalam Piyal with a group of trained dancers and musicians presented ‘Chitra  Purvanga’ in Marga Natya doctrine at the premises of Kalamandalam Performing Research Centre, Kolkata. Claimed to be reconstructed by the Kathakali dancer Piyal, trained in Kerala, following Bharata’s eleven Natya Sangrahas for the practical representation of the Marga system as mentioned by Bharata in Natya Shastra and other dance and music treatise, and iconographies, the interesting  performance began with the ritual “Jarjar-sthapana” and “Ashtadikpal Namaskriya” performed by the Sutradhara.

Beginning with slow and well controlled strong limb movements with athletic stretches around the performance space with the musicians at the background, Suman Saha as sutradhar moved with the Jarjar along with the ‘nata-nartaka’ Akash Mallick and Santanu Das. The dancers are well trained and have tremendous physical fitness and body control to execute such slow movements with dignity and charm. This was followed by presentations weaved with karanas, angahaaras and pindi (ancient Indian choreography) composed on the basis of Aasaritas and Bardhamaan (Mahageet). The lyrics and the notations of the Aasaritas have been derived from the14th century text Sangeet-Raaj by Rana Kumbhakarna.

The kutupa (orchestra) was arranged with the natyabadyas of Bharata behind the performance area at the back in a line as has been reconstructed so far. The music was rhythm based with beats varying from single and then to double, retaining a sort of primordial flavour with symmetric thekas. The natyacharya Piyal on the dardurik was at the centre keeping the primary beat surrounded by Mohana Iyer as the taal dharika, Subhash as the taal dharak, Apurva Lal Manna and Santanu Das as mardangik, Ritusri as vaipanchika, Debarati Banerjee as vainik, Gayatri  Krishnamurthy and Purnima Venugopal as two fine gayikas, and Abhijit Roy as upanga-vainik.

The costume was rustic made of rough material of pastel shades with earth colours. Angika, Vachika, Aharya and Swattika was well executed in the abhinaya as the integral part of Natya ‘Bakkyartha’ and ‘Padartha’ abhinaya along with mukhaja, sharaeeraja and chesttakrita that was presented by the well trained dancers. To reconstruct the whole methodology and doctrine, the fundamental resources were Abhinavagupta’s commentary on Natya Shastra that is ‘Abhinavabharati’ and ‘Bharatbhashya’ by Nanyabhupal.  Piyal should be lauded for such a captivating presentation. A novel experience indeed.

A critic of performing arts, specialising in dance, dance theatre and expressions, and a regular contributor to the Statesman Kolkata in dance, vocal music and theatre. Trained in Kathak, both the Jaipur and Lucknow gharanas, was a disciple of the late Jaikumari, Ram Gopal Misra, Manjulika Roy Chowdhury and Gayatri Chatterjee. Had exposure to Bharatanatyam from Guru Maruthappa Pillai and Manipuri from Guru Bipin Singh and Kalavati Devi.  Regular visitor to the festivals of UK and Europe. Also trained in vocal, semi-classical music and Rabindra Sangeet. A Science communicator, Ph.D. in Polymer Science, Commonwealth Scholar and a retired Professor of Chemistry, Nita devotes most of her time to dance and theatre writing.