Aranye Ninage Sharanu
- Shashank Kiron Nair
Photos: Harshavardhan K
May 13, 2022
Samanvay Arts Festival is one of the most popular and awaited art events in Bangalore. A brainchild of Kuchipudi exponent, guru and art curator Dr. Veena Murthy Vijay, the festival nurtures various well known and upcoming artistes from a wide arena of art forms ranging from classical to contemporary to folk arts every year. The dancer's inclination towards environmental awareness had "Jeeva Nadhi" choreographed by her in 2021 bringing forth the importance of rivers to mankind. This year, post pandemic, the festival advocated protection of our green covers, the forests and soil with an impactful dance-theatre production called "Aranye Ninage Sharanu". Directed by Veena Murthy Vijay based on the book authored by Dr. A.N. Yellappa Reddy (Chairman, Bangalore Environment Trust), the production not only aimed towards creating awareness for the betterment of our ecosystems, but also brought forth the strong attachment and affection of the choreographer towards the farmers as major stakeholders of the society.
Performing Arts is a powerful medium to furnish people with imperative information on relevant topics such as ecosystem conservation at large. The choreographer's far-sighted wisdom has significantly succeeded in capturing the plight of mother earth. It has also brought to limelight the importance of forests and water in the ecosystem and our collective responsibility as a society to preserve them.
The production opened with a dialogue between Bhoodevi (Veena Murthy Vijay) and Kuravanji (Shama Krishna). Veena Murthy embodied the benignity of the Mother Earth. Aptly costumed in green to bring forth the essence of the character, her forgiving, motherly glances set the significance of the plot. Her benign articulation of the dialogues in chaste Kannada magnified her abhinaya as a benevolent Bhoodevi capturing the heart of every spectator.
Shama Krishna as Kuravanji delightfully brought out a folk flavor. With movements adapted from Kuchipudi, the dance beautifully merged with theatric elements which the production demanded sans wearing ghungroos. Dressed in vibrant checks, her eloquent body language and striking expressions captured this critic's attention.
The story unfolded with two young boys (Rajesh TK and Manu Jagadeesh) who grew up nurtured by the trees and forest. As the boys matured, their greed drove them to exploit the trees for their bountiful yet perishable resources. Few decades down the lane, the two men gained wisdom realizing their folly. In an attempt to rectify their misdeeds, they made every effort to preserve the precious resources of the trees and warned the coming generations of the dangers of misusing the generous gifts of nature.
Veena Murthy's creative intelligence shaped a segment about Shabari and Rama. Shabari hailed to be a barefoot expert in forest ecology looks upon the trees as her own offspring and as she anticipates the advent of Lord Rama, she carefully plans and collects the seasonal fruits and berries to offer him. The sequence saw the trees being personified, interacting and dancing with Shabari (Anuradha Vikranth) and Rama (Mithun Shyam). Tastefully costumed in an orange saree and using movements adapted from Bharatanatyam, Anuradha beautifully brought out the role of Shabari with a poignant moment of emotional outburst on seeing Lord Rama. All the central characters were brought to life on stage through deeply involved performances making sure not to deviate from the focus of the theme that the forest is a peculiar organism of unlimited kindness and benevolence. It makes no demands for its sustenance and extends generously the products of its life activity. It affords protection to all beings, offering shade even to the axe-man who destroys it.
Surya Rao's light design with apt usage of multimedia projections transcended one's imagination. His creative indulgence enforces lights as performers assisting the dancers in creating the right moods and effects. The succeeding segment showing the destruction of forests brought all onlookers to the edge of their seats. A breathtaking aerial act by Chethan P along with the artistes of the Ananya Dance Company showing various avatars of Lord Vishnu as a sanchari while Bhoodevi spoke about the Lord's ten manifestations charged the stage with a visual fiesta.
Praveen D Rao's fantastic music heightened every emotion setting the perfect ambience for the theme of the production. The soulful and thought provoking music was the backbone of the production and surely a big reason for its undeniable success.
Shashank Kiron Nair is a Bharatanatyam dancer, Carnatic vocalist and student of Architecture at BMS College of Architecture. He is a recipient of the Kalashree Prashasti 2017-18 and Karnataka Sangeetha Nritya Academy scholarship 2021-22.