Fine dancing at Durgalal Smruti Samaroh
- Vijay Shanker
March 20, 2022
Sam Ved Society for Performing Arts and Kalpalata organized the 32nd Pandit Durgalal Smruti Samaroh, featuring three talented classical dancers, Parshwanath Upadhye for Bharatanatyam, Rajashri Praharaj for Odissi and Gauri Sharma Tripathi for Kathak on 11th March at Swatamtryaveer Savarkar Auditorium in Mumbai. This annual festival is organised by veteran Kathak exponent Uma Dogra on behalf of Sam Ved Society for Performing Arts, as a mark of tribute to her mentor Pandit Durgalal, who was acclaimed as one of the best Kathak exponents of India.
Sam Ved Society for Performing Arts has been established with the intention of promoting arts and artists, particularly classical music and dance. Every year two festivals are organised, the Raindrops Festival during the monsoon period to promote young talented dancers in different styles and the Pandit Durgalal Smruti Samaroh as a mark of tribute to Pandit Durgalal, featuring established performers from the classical fraternity. Uma Dogra says, "After the lockdown which was a very difficult phase for performing artistes, we have now organized this festival with great difficulty as there is hardly any corporate support and to meet the expenses is not an easy task but the show must go on. I was worried but Kalpalata came forward to support, hence it was possible."
Gauri Sharma Tripathi
Unlike the usual Kathak performances, Gauri Sharma Tripathi made a fine start to the festival, describing the attributes of Lord Ganesha "Kadantam Umasutam, Vinayakam Baje Gajananam", transforming her performance towards spiritual upliftment, not only for the dancer but for the audience too. Incorporating the trinity Brahma,Vishnu and Maheswara, the performance was an excerpt from "Ish Mir" - theatre of goddess and god, depiction of androgyny inherent in the dance form. With dedication and a quest for perfection, the performance was steeped in the kathavachak tradition (story telling) in the dhrupad style of 15th century, portraying varied episodes of Lord Vishnu. The highlight of the performance was dramatic exposition of Daksha Yagna in which King Daksha - father of Parvati - conducts the yagna without inviting Lord Shiva but Parvati attends and is enraged and thereby commits self-immolation (Sati).
The entire performance was quite elevating due to the complete involvement, stylized movements, intense abhinaya, commendable singing by Vaibhav Mankad, tabla by Pandit Kalinath Mishra, sarangi by Sandeep Mishra, sitar by Alka Gujar, padant by Padma Sharma and Tarini, effective and appropriate lighting by Arun Madkaikar.
Rajashri Praharaj, disciple of Guru Ratikant Mohapatra, rendered a vivacious Odissi performance, particularly noteworthy for the clarity of movements and expressions. Commencing her performance with Vinayaka smaranam - Om Gan Ganpatiye Namah - she made a fine start with distinct movements, following with Charukeshi Pallavi that showcased lyrical and exquisite movements, simultaneously blending well with music, melody and rhythm, with music by Ravishankar Rudan and choreography by Ratikant Mohapatra. The highlight of her performance was the rendering of Adi Shankaracharya composition "Ananda Lahiri" in praise of the Goddess, exposing the virile and benevolent aspect of the goddess. It was a pleasure to watch Rajashri dance with so much passion and zeal.
Parshwanath Upadhye basically hails from Belgaum and is presently seeking guidance from the celebrated Bharatanatyam Guru Sudharani Raghupathy. Parshwanath has performed for some of the most prestigious festivals both in India and abroad. His performance is marked with a unique quality of clarity of movements, intense abhinaya, involvement and devotion, creating a rare spectacle and unforgettable experience for the audience.
Commencing with Shri Chamundeshwari Palayam, it was a pleasure to watch him dance with effortless ease, distinct and precise movements, creating a fine impact. What was most striking about his performance was the element of humour in both the expressional numbers, the Kshetragna padam that deals with the nayika and the ignorant, ignored and dejected lover, and the Kanakadasa composition Baro Krishnayya in which the devotee cannot distinguish between dream and reality. He is so devoted that he feels that God is always there with him. In one instance, the Lord asks him to play the flute which he is unable to do, creating a humorous impact on the audience, thereby taking his performance closer to the audience, a touch of lokadharmi. These numbers were the piece-de-resistance of the evening. Parshwanath received fine orchestral support. As usual with her quality of being outspoken, Uma Dogra said, "I have fallen in love with him and his performance, his quality of humour is amazing. I wish I was forty years younger!"
Vijay Shankar is a Kuchipudi and Kathakali exponent, teacher, bilingual journalist, arts critic and actor.