Day 7 of Kala Nadam fest
- Probal Gupta, Bangalore

December 10, 2011

The 7th day of Kala Nadam Dance and Music Festival organized by Murali Mohan and Nandini Mehta commenced with a Mohiniattam performance by Gopika Varma from Chennai. Gopika commenced her recital impressively with a Varnam accompanied with a coconut deepam congruous to the Kerala tradition in praise of Lord Aiyappa, much associated with the Mandala season. Neat movements surfaced right from the beginning, the slow movement aggrandizing the overall effect. However, too much heavy stamping of her feet, no way affiliated to the lasya oriented dance form of Mohiniattam marred the overall effect of her performance. One bows to the artiste’s creative ability in portraying the union of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu as Mohini - an amalgamation of tandava and lasya aspect resulting in the birth of Lord Aiyappa.

The execution of Satyabhama, her second piece, highly inspired by the Kathakali genre, looked good comparatively. Neat execution of Narada’s sly character to arouse jealousy in Satyabhama’s mind, encircling in joy the Parijata tree being gifted by Krishna without even understanding Krishna’s intension were dramatically portrayed.

Gopika Varma

Sharmila Mukerjee
Sharmila Mukerjee’s Odissi was slotted in the second half of the evening. Her entry onto the proscenium draped into a creamish Mahari style costume aggrandized the overall effect. “Maata Marakata Shyama,” a Mangalacharan in praise of Goddess Saraswati choreographed by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra with neat tribhangi and chowk spoke of the dancer’s assiduous training. The balanced movement exhibited the Chandrakala with the left leg up, the subtle bama and the dakhya chala with the dancer slowly sitting on crossed leg showing the Devi playing the veena giving an aesthetic sculptersque pose. The neat charis accompanying the rhythmic syllables “Tai tai tha dhi keta dhai” followed with the movements in Mantukapada were exhibited with finesse. The “ta ri ta jhena” pallavi set to Raag Bilahari in eka taali followed next. The sensuality as manifested in the 'S' curve of the asymmetrical tribhangi derived its higher quality on Sharmila’s well defined body, providing an aesthetic visual appeal; though one also felt the necessity of the artist’s maintaining eye contact with the rasikas. The neat zigzag brahmaris accompanying the rhythmic syllables “ga pa ma pa ga pa ga rae” governing the proscenium in an organic flow looked aesthetically appealing. One enjoyed the neatly executed 'chala' or the lasya oriented torso movements with her hips remaining steady as her torso shifted.

The concluding “Ardhanarishwar” with Sharmila’s immaculate mukhabhinaya describing the union of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva in one body spoke of the dancer’s years of premeditated practice. Her refined flow of movements especially during the “Champeya Garurardha,” her balanced Mayura Karana, the mellifluous movements with the suchi hasta with the “tad hi ta” rhythmic syllables governing the stage spoke of the dancer’s years of dedicated practice.  

Probal Gupta trained in Kathakali under two legends Late Kalamandalam Govindan Kutty and Guru Fact Padmanabhan under whom he is presently continuing his specialization in Stree Vesham genre of Kathakali. He writes for the Bangalore edition of The Hindu.