Text & pics: GS Rajan
February 4, 2012
Many dancers talk about divinity. It is not an easy task to give the audience an experience of divinity. An artist cannot hide his or her true self and project divinity. It has to come from deep within. Navtej Singh Johar, a self made dancer, was successful in taking his audience to ecstasy when he presented his Bharatanatyam recital at the Brahma Gana Sabha in Chennai during the Madras Season 2011-12.
Without any gimmicks, acrobatics or extraordinary techniques, Navtej presented simple Bharatanatyam which touched even the uninitiated. His alma mater Kalakshetra should be proud of this wonderful artiste for preserving and propagating true art full of classicism.
This Season performance was the second time within a year that I was watching Navtej. Last summer I saw his audience crying and requesting for more when he danced to Sufi poetry at South Bank, London. Later, Navtej received an outstanding review from Sanjeevini’s publication ‘Pulse.’
And in Chennai in January 2012, Navtej chose to present a kriti on Goddess Meenakshi as the main composition of the evening, evoking the green-hued Goddess of Madurai, the three-breasted Meenakshi. In this beautiful composition of Muthuswami Dikshithar, the composer says: “O Meenakshi, goddess with fish-shaped eyes, please shower your grace upon me and reveal the divine mystery to me.” And that’s exactly what Goddess Meenakshi did. She showered Navtej with her blessings and Navtej was not dancing but living the presentation. Divinity and its majestic power were felt all through his presentation.
Accuracy of nritta, fully involved abhinaya, perfect rhythm and cent percent coordination from co-performers in the orchestra…what else does one need for a most satisfying evening? And his team members, Justin McCarthy (nattuvangam), Elangovan (vocal), Ganesh (mridangam) and Raghuraman (flute) gave him full support and embellished the concert.
GS Rajan is a top ranking flautist, composer and arts administrator. (www.malabarian.com)