A delectable fare by Sri Mudralaya
- Hemamalini Suresh
Photos: Iyappan, A4 medias
January 22, 2024
On 8th January 2024, Dr Lakshmi Ramaswamy's Sri Mudralaya presented 'Madhuradipate Akhilam Madhuram' for Sri Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha, at Vani Mahal, Chennai. The performance began with an Anjali in Nottuswaram (Sankarabaranam) which set the tone for the visual delight that was to follow.
The next piece was the popular song, "Thottu thottu pesa varaan" by Periasamy Thooran in ragam Behag and adi talam which was presented by Nivedita Raghavan, a senior disciple of Lakshmi Ramaswamy. The artiste beautifully brought out the love of the gopika for Krishna, and at the same time expressed her gentle admonition of Krishna for touching her without reason! One thought that this song presented a lot of scope to incorporate a bit more feigning of oodal (exaggerated anger and sulking between two lovers over something insignificant).
The main item of the evening, varnam in Ragamalika and Talamalika set to verses from the Bhagavatham was spellbinding. The melodious music was composed by Dr Rajkumar Bharathi. While the devotee pleads with the Lord, "If you ignore me where else would I go" in the purvangam, in the uttarangam the Bhagwan himself answers, "Where do I have the freedom to ignore when I'm bound by the love of my devotees." To explain this, Lakshmi has used a few popular stories from well to not so well known stories of Ambareesha and sage Durvasa, and Bheeshma stuti to bring out the love of the lord for his bhakta and always appearing in his hour of need and distress. It also included Krishna's sermon to Arjuna on the battlefield, Lord Narasimha coming to the aid of Prahlada, the Gajendra moksham where he saves the elephant from the clutches of the crocodile, and the Lord silently helping Sudhama overcome his poverty. Finally comes the anecdote of Thirumazhisai Azhwar, where the Bhagwan, rolling up his serpent mat follows his bhakta saying that he has no joy in staying in a place where his bhakta is not welcome. The senior disciples Jagyaseni, Kavya, Reshmi, Aiswarya and others, did complete justice to the brilliant choreography and effortlessly brought out the essence of the varnam with intricate jathis and graceful abhinaya and kept the audience rooted to their seats.
The 10th ashtapadi "Vahati malaya sameere" was presented by Kavya Suresh, where she beautifully portrayed the viraha of Lord Krishna on being separated from his beloved Radha.
The grand finale was 'Srinivasa Kalyanam' tuned in Qawwali style by Dr Rajkumar Bharathi and well choreographed by Lakshmi. The dancers were two teams of four each representing the bride Padmavati and groom Srinivasa. They poke fun at each other while they bring out the virtue and greatness of Lord Srinivasa. The bride's side jokingly ask the groom's side, "Why did the lord take the matsya avatar, was it to search for a beautiful eye, like that of Padmavati's?" The groom's side reply, "Don't you know, it was to recover the Vedas?" This way the friendly banter continues between the two sides extolling the virtues of the Lord. The Qawwali ends with Padmavati and Srinivasa staying in this world for the sake of the well-being of their devotees. The dancers were sprightly and brought out the flavour of Qawwali by making the audience tap their feet too. Dr Lakshmi Ramaswamy's gentle narration in chaste Thamizh throughout the show was an added bonus. The audience left after an evening well spent.
Hemamalini Suresh is a Bharatanatyam exponent and teacher with over 40 years of experience in teaching both in Chennai and Kolkata.