Mahan by Padmalaya Dance Foundation
- Satish Suri
Photos courtesy: Padmalaya Dance Foundation
December 2, 2023
The Padmalaya Dance Foundation and International Dance Alliance presented a thematic group performance on November 5, based on the Mahabharata. The performance explored the complex personalities of three epic characters from the ancient Indian epic, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses, their conflicts and dilemmas, and their roles in the grand narrative of the war.
Ekalavya is a modern adaptation of Toru Dutt's Buttoo, a poem that draws from the Mahabharata story of the young Nishada boy who gave his thumb as a fee to Dronacharya. The Dakshina ensemble, led by Divya Nair and her talented artistes Sayujya Srinivasan, Shrinaagi Venkatesh, Srimalli, Swathi Karthik and Padmesh Raj, presented a nuanced and powerful performance that explores the themes of self-reliance, honesty and dignity. The final line of Dutt's poem, "And men shall ever link thy name with Self-help, Truth, and Modesty", inspires the audience to reflect on the journey of Ekalavya, who transcended his pain and achieved greatness. A brilliant display of histrionics captured the devotion and sacrifice of Ekalavya, who was discriminated against because of his tribal identity. The music on a recorded track created the mood and ambience that enhanced the production values of the rendition.
Satpurusha - Karna's story in the Mahabharata embodies a complex struggle between identity, duty, and moral conflicts. Born of divine lineage but raised as a charioteer's son, he faces rejection due to his birth status. Loyalty to Duryodhana creates intense dilemmas, notably during Draupadi's humiliation. His dialogue challenging Krishna on righteousness reflects his inner turmoil. Karna's journey questions simplistic notions of good and evil, illustrating the intricate nature of human existence and the perpetual quest to comprehend personal duty amidst conflicting responsibilities.
The presentation by Janani Murali, Poshini Zunjarwad, Anindita Ashok, Ranjitha Kumar, Niveda Balaji, and Anushka Kiran was a captivating and moving display of artistry. The choreography by Padma Murali created a movement profile that expressed deep emotions with great intensity and passion. The collaboration of these artistes resulted in a performance that was rich in depth, attracting and engaging the audience through their movements.
The performance was greatly enriched by the musical accompaniment of Rohit Bhatt on vocals, Padma Murali on the nattuvangam, Shrihari Rangaswamy on the mridangam, and Narasimhamurthy on the flute, provided a harmonious and rhythmic backdrop for the expressive movements. The lighting design by Keerthi Kumar also added to the aesthetic appeal and mood of the show. The seamless integration of music, dance and lighting created a captivating and immersive artistic experience for the audience.
Gandhari, a key figure in the Mahabharata, symbolizes sacrifice and inner conflict. Named after a ruined land, she chose to blindfold herself out of loyalty, living in darkness both figuratively and literally. Her multiple roles as daughter, wife, mother, and queen clashed, tearing her apart. She witnessed her family's injustices but remained silent, perhaps blinded by love. Only in loss did she realize her mistakes, haunted by regrets. Her story teaches the consequences of sacrificing one's vision and voice, urging women not to wait for tragedy to assert their truth and purpose. It's a cautionary tale about self-awareness and claiming one's identity before it's too late.
Gandhari's narrative was vividly brought to life by the performers of Nirali Collective - Karuna Kirtivasan, Talin Subbaraya, Ganashree Gowda, Adithi Ravi, and Priyanka Chandrasekhar. They dramatized her struggle and her final enlightenment with flair. They also conveyed the depth of her emotional journey and her awakening to reality, depicting her inner dilemmas and nuances with competence.
Renowned dancer and choreographer Lalitha Srinivasan received the Leela Sekhar Memorial Award for her exemplary work in the field of dance. The award, instituted in memory of the late Leela Sekhar, a legendary dancer and teacher, recognizes the achievements and contributions of eminent artistes in the field of dance.
Bangalore based Satish Suri is an avid dance rasika besides being a life member of the Music and Arts Society.