Off the beaten track - Scintillating thematic presentation by Janaki Rangarajan
Photos courtesy: Krishna Gana Sabha

July 8, 2014

It was a connoisseur’s delight to be present at the presentation of  ‘Voices’, a concept developed by Janaki Rangarajan (the awardee of Yagnaraman Award of Excellence in 2012 from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha) in collaboration with artists from New Delhi and Chennai. Janaki was a picture of grace and elegance with her extraordinary stage presence. The whole concept evolved around the poet getting an identity from the evolution of poetry based on Pablo Neruda’s poem in Spanish translated in English and compered lucidly by Balakrishnan Venkataraman. Janaki did ample justice through her combination of nritta, nritya and natya to the lilting music composed by Rajkumar Bharathi rendered by Sudha Raghuraman, a very talented artist both in Carnatic and Hindustani genres. In the second piece, ragas such as Bageshri, Desh, Behag, Revathi, Madhuvanti, Simmendramadhyamam and others filled our ears while the eyes of the connoisseurs feasted on Janaki’s exquisite portrayal with her convincing abhinaya and araimandi poses very neatly executed.

Balakrishnan then narrated in poetic Hindi the story of Manu falling in love with Shraddha who bears a child for him and later Manu trying to violate Ida and punished by Rudra which brings Manu to his senses. It was beautifully portrayed by Janaki. This was followed with Draupadi questioning Yudhishtira as to where his concept of dharma has taken him and persuading him to leave aside his blind adherence to his concept of dharma with her impelling desire to seek revenge for her humiliation in Duryodhana’s court. This was powerfully portrayed by the artist. The next item related to a young mischievous lad waylaying a beautiful damsel taking her calf to graze and implorations of the girl to let her go. But, the love-laden coquette covertly tells the boy that she is taking the milk pot to the field obviously with her desire that he should follow her. The beauty of the piece from Kalithokai was that the girl even while mentioning that her beloved should not follow her really wants him to be with her wherever she went and that explains her covert cue to him mentioned earlier.

The ultimate piece was a Sufi music beautifully rendered by the vocalist Sudha Raghuraman (who has also composed music for some of the items) and gracefully portrayed by Janaki Rangarajan. The entire performance was lifted to sublime heights with the orchestra contributing in no small measure with the other artists, Vedakrishnaram on mridangam, Kalaiarasan on violin and Atul Kumar on flute. Jayashree Ramanathan wielded the cymbals. On the whole, it was an absolutely refreshing presentation quite apart from the normal margam.