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Andal: Brilliantly celebrated and revealed
- Barbara Framm

February 21, 2020

This last Margazhi Music Festival Season 2019, I was fortunate to see 'Naachiyar Next', Anita Ratnam's re-telling of the life and poetry of mystic saint-poet Andal, at Brahma Gana Sabha in Chennai. I am familiar with and attracted to Andal's story and poetry, and have seen several different productions devoted to her; among these I have particularly loved and appreciated Vyjayantimala's productions. So I was curious and happily anticipating seeing another perspective.

'Naachiyar Next' was a brilliantly conceived production, which, through narration, beautiful costuming, sets, and lighting, as well as talented and dynamic dancers, brought to life Andal's remarkable story. While there was a richness to the colors, textures, musical accompaniment and dance, there was also a distinct simplicity and economy, allowing a spaciousness through which the spectator could absorb the nuances and bhav.

In her role as narrator, Anita brought a clarity and cohesiveness to Andal's life, story, and poetry. Seeing this production once was simply not enough. I hope I will be fortunate enough to see it again in the future. I was truly moved by it to further explore Andal's life and poetry. After the performance, I went away both satiated and hungering for more. Thank you, Anita, for bringing this to the stage for all to share in the beauty and inspiration of Andal's life, through such superb dance, music, narration and conception. Brava!

Barbara Framm is a teacher of Bharatanatyam and has an M.A. in Women's Studies.

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