Swati Mahotsav: A kaleidoscope of Carnatic music, dance and discussion
- Sulagna Mukhopadhyay
e-mail: sulagna64@gmail.com

March 19, 2014

Natyalok celebrated Swati Mahotsav on 3rd March in Kolkata. The venue was the auditorium of ICCR. Guru Thankamani Kutty inaugurated the program by lighting the lamp. Guru Vandana was chanted by Naveen Namboodiri. The program was divided into three segments - Words, Music and Dance. In the first segment, Niranjan Goswami, Debojyoti Mishra, Mahua Mukherjee and Mamata Niyogi-Nakra paid their homage to Swati Thirunal through words. This was followed by Carnatic music sung by Naveen Namboodiri who mesmerized the audience with his melodious voice. The concluding piece was a Thillana.

The dance segment began with a Kathakali performance by Kalamandalam Goutam, a graduate in Kathakali from Kerala Kalamandalam. He presented Maharaja Aswati Tirunal Rama Varma’s Poothana Moksham based on Maha-Bhagavatam’s Chapter 10. The piece was set in two parts (padams). The first padam was set in talam Chembada. This part described demoness Poothana’s appearance in the village of Ambady and enjoying the beauty of the surrounding nature. The following padam set in ragam Ananda Bhairavi and talam triputa described the scene where the  sorceress breast feeds Krishna and in turn she receives moksha.  Kalamandalam Goutam is a charismatic and exceedingly gifted Kathakali dancer and he portrayed this episode wonderfully. He impressively depicted the characters of Poothana and Krishna. There was no exaggeration in donning the two contrast characters. The tirasheela was by Sourav Mondal and Proloy Sarkar, costume and make up by Utsab Ganguly and Lalita and Kari by the dancer himself.

Kalamandalam Goutam

Ayana Mukherjee

Priya Krishnadas

Jayakrishnan KM

From Kerala the audience was taken to the state of Andhra Pradesh. Kuchipudi was performed by Ayana Mukherjee. She staged two items: Ramana Vibho and Chaliye Kunchanamo. Despite being an experienced dancer, there was clear evidence of lack of passion and commitment. The third dancer, Priya Krishnadas showcased in Mohiniattam, a padam Panimathi mukhi bale set in ragam Ahiri and talam mishrachapu and a thillana in ragam Bhoopalam and talam adi. Priya was graceful in her presentations and her postures were apt but to a certain extent, her facial expressions were quite passive.

Bharatanatyam exponent Jayakrishnan KM was the concluding artiste. He presented alarippu, Shankara sree giri naada prabho set in ragam Hamsadhawani and thillana in Simhendra Madhyamam. He was a relief to the audience after a spell of boredom. Endowed with an expressive face, rhythmic skill and unrelenting spirit, Jayakrishnan successfully established himself as a skilled and perceptive Bharatanatyam dancer within a short time span. The piece-de-resistance of his recital was the concluding thillana, a pure dance form in which he described Lord Shiva and the other gods and goddesses around him in the music and dance sequence. His footwork along with movements of body, neck, face, shoulder and limbs, elegantly synchronized with jatis carried a visual intensity for the connoisseurs.

Sulagna Mukhopadhyay was trained in Bharatanatyam by Guru Thankamani Kutty and Indian folk by Late Botu Pal. She has an M.A. in Comparative Literature and has freelanced for various leading newspapers of Kolkata like The Telegraph, The Statesman and Ananda Bazar Patrika. She has written articles on dance and gender issues. She is a teacher of South Point School since 1996.