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Second edition of 30th Pt Durgalal Festival
- Anupma Harshal
Photos: Suresh Muraleedharan

April 4, 2020

The 2nd edition of 30th Pandit Durgalal Festival on Feb 29, 2020 was a treat to the eyes and food for the soul. It was a houseful show, where the doyens of Mumbai dance community gathered under one roof at NCPA's Tata Theatre. Young students of dance, dancers, dance teachers and legendary gurus paid their respect to the legendary Pandit Durgalal.

Sreelakshmy Govardhanan

It was a sumptuous triple treat of consummate artistry organized jointly by Kathak guru Uma Dogra's Samved and NCPA. In Sreelakshmy Govardhanan's Kuchipudi recital, the Navarasa shloka centred on Krishna set the mood for the brilliant Putana moksham which depicted Putana's dilemma in killing baby Krishna. The artiste and the art blended seamlessly, the former completely merging into the latter, revealing the multiple hues of emotional states of Putana into the ultimate surrender leading to her mukti. The range of emotions and body language of Putana transforming her from a demoness to a damsel, her comical indulgence in the activities of Vrindavan almost forgetting her task at hand and her feelings on seeing the innocent and divine baby Krishna, her reluctance to kill him but at the same time fearing the consequence, Sreelakshmy left the audience spellbound with her performance. She performed the traditional tarangam and followed it with the evergreen ashtapadi "Sakhi he". Her brilliant ensemble of musicians lent good support, especially the soulful vocals of Bijeesh.

Bijayini Satpathy

Next was an Odissi performance by Bijayini Satpathy, the star dancer from Nrityagram now journeying as a soloist. She presented three choreographies by Surupa Sen. The first one was Srimathi, a pallavi kind of piece depicting the physical beauty of a woman in her youth and her journey towards spiritualism as she matures. The ashtapadi "Priye charusheele" was beautifully portrayed with Krishna playfully beseeching Radha to forgive him after his dalliance with other gopis. It fanned the emotions of the audience seeking more from the dancer dwelling on the pathos of Krishna, his helplessness without his beloved Radha who completes him in every aspect. The last item on Lord Shiva, a shloka depicting incarnate forms was brilliantly danced with superb technique. Every muscle in the body was in control, surrendering to the will of the dancer. It was an absolute delight and awe inspiring to watch Bijayini's Odissi as it showcased her strength.

Vaibhav Arekar

The last performance for the evening was Bharatanatyam by Mumbaikar Vaibhav Arekar that echoed majesty or gambheeryam. He started with his ensemble depicting Lord Rakhumai Vittal in an abhanga mixed with alarippu sollus. He followed it with a beautiful subhashitam in Sanskrit depicting a hilarious episode of Lord Shiva being disrobed by his snake when it encountered Garuda, while Vishnu was visiting Shiva in Kailasa. The depiction of the bumbling Shiva ganas, the alarm of the snake sighting Garuda and the bird like movements of Garuda threatening the snake were brilliantly depicted evoking hasya rasa in the audience. The next piece was the evergreen "Krishna nee begane baaro" but with a different twist. Vaibhav became a seeker here, asking the audience to seek their own Krishna. Do we seek the great preacher who taught the Gita, or the brave lad who killed Kamsa and danced on Kalinga, or do we seek the innocence personified by the little Udupi Krishna that we miss in our adult years? It was thought provoking and danced with complete involvement, subtlety and surrender by Vaibhav. The young students of Vaibhav performed to Balamuralikrishna's Kuntalavarali tillana with energy and gusto as a fitting finale.

It was a delightful evening of top notch dance thanks to Samved and NCPA. It was also heart-warming to see Uma Dogra presenting a cheque to animal welfare to protect, feed and be kind to the strays.

Dr. Anupma Harshal is a Research Scientist in Biology and has been trained in Kathak dance by late Pandit Brijraj Mishra.

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