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G Narendra's portrayal of Sri Anjaneya
- Saraswathi Vasudevan

March 4, 2021

Asadhya saadaka swaamin
Asaadhyam tava kim vada
Sri Rama dhootam krupa sindho
Mat kaaryam saadhaya Prabho

At a time when visual transmissions have a huge lead with supersonic speed over aural relays, Lord Anjaneya descended holding the reins on speed and sound waves! One who is the epitome of Bhakta, a paragon of virtues, an exemplar of humility! He is Sri Hanuman.

It was a divine Feb 21 at Bharatakalanjali, Adyar. The Dhananjayans' dance school hosted an Anjali to the Bharata kala. Versatile veteran dancer G Narendra presented an enthralling Reetigowla Varnam, transfixing the audience for a good hour and a half. Lyrics composed by the popular Tamizh scholar Dr. S Raghuraman and music set by the inimitable Hari Prasad, shone the lights on the defining devotee, Lord Hanuman.

Absorbing and soaking in every minuscule nuance of Vaayu Putra, Narendra displayed a passionate possession of this mighty Lord, whose potential is limitless. Delineating multifarious roles and facets of the valorous lord, the dancer effortlessly embodied Him, through the consequential shifts of an inverted mukula and dola hasta. The stances, bounces, swings, leaps established the distinct features and characteristics justifiably. Chosen teermanams with balanced laya, bore crisp, joyful utterances by the deft and pleasing nattuvangam of Mahalakshmi. Her education, experience and expertise in the specialisation came to the fore as always. Engaging, intriguing adavu patterns knit as korvais appeared to take on a dancing Anjaneya.

Every member of the orchestra merged naturally with the dance. The brilliance of the rhythmic intonations lent by mridangist Ramesh added that luster as did Kalaiarasan's bow and string, so sensitively painting the Reetigowla with colours of varied emotions. The much sought after vocalist Binu Venugopal's rendition resonated even long after the performance. His remarkable range and melody of voice, created the aura and ambience for the detailing in the sancharis. Narendra's mukha abhinaya splendidly displayed every required rasa as he took on multiple roles in the many episodes of Lord Hanuman's narrative. Right from the depiction of little Hanuman enamoured by the glowing sun, thinking it to be a fruit, the flight to procure the sanjeevi, the loyal, trusted friend of a disconsolate Rama, tracing Seetha in Ashoka vana, to the messiah of good values, culminating in shedding the ego and the surrender in utmost humility, Narendra's portrayals superlatively carried the niche audience through Navarasas and Navavidha Bhakti. The final transcension of Atma Nivedanam resounded in a standing ovation.

So what's on my mind now? Think Lord Hanuman and Lord Rama appears for He dwells within! In this pandemic of Coronaasura, the world seeks Lord Hanuman's sanjeevi. Lord Hanuman in modern parlance is 'Man on a Mission.'

Saraswathi Vasudevan is an art critic and connoisseur of arts, especially Bharatanatyam.

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