Click here for all links

Social media links

Dasamahavidya - Samrat Dutta's contemporary take on Tantric philosophy
- Esha Banerjee
Photos: Sanjit Debroy

February 20, 2024

Samrat Dutta is an eminent Bharatanatyam performer, teacher and choreographer based in Kolkata. A disciple of Prof C.V Chandrasekhar, he initially started his training under Guru Thankamani Kutty. He has also explored the art under other eminent gurus and performers. He trained in Marga Natya under Guru Kalamandalam Piyal Bhattacharya. Presently running his own institution 'Angamantra' in Kolkata, Samrat has been undergoing through his own creation and researched choreographic works, the equivalent qualities of both the traditional and the experimental aspects of the art form.

Dasamahavidya by Samrat Dutta

With an anticipation to watch some of his researched choreographic work (as a recipient of Junior Fellowship from Ministry of Culture), I visited ICCR, Kolkata, on 14th Jan 2024. Samrat Dutta performed as a part of 13 years of celebration - Pratishruti, organised by Nadam (Sonarpur), curated by well-known Kathak exponent Sandip Mallick. I was a bit disappointed when the music started as the sound quality was not up to the mark. The whole scenario changed though, when Samrat came on stage in a simple red cotton dhoti. For the next 30 minutes, I sat there forgetting that I had a mammoth task of taking notes, as frame after frame he thrilled the audience with the joy to be one with his creation.

Samrat Dutta performed certain pieces from his already popular production Dasamahavidya, a tribute to the 10 divine matrikas. He proudly states that he has been quite intrigued with the concepts of Tantra since his childhood and was aware of the importance of the number 10 in human life - Dasavataram, Dasamandala, Dasaprana, Dasakarma etc.

The Dhyaana slokas of all the devis of Dasamahavidya was tweaked to build a dance language that tells the stories of the different stages of a human life in a convincing manner. Being the land of Matsyendranath, Bengal is not alien to these concepts, so the audience was well versed with the basics. Yet Samrat's depiction of goddesses Dumavati, Kali and Bagalamukhi left most of us speechless. The evocative expressions of the performer and the grandeur of the language blended well to establish and narrate the philosophy of the Tantric traditions. The jatis were a part of the sahityam and the rhythmic patterns were carefully selected so as to not tax the audience's mind with overpowering shower of unnecessary editions.

Dasamahavidya by Samrat Dutta

He went on to narrate the stories of goddesses Kamal, Chinnamasta and Tripurasundari. Set to taalamalika and dasaraagamalika, a web of beautiful enchantment was created. As the narrative progressed, detailed with delightful narration of Sanskrit slokas to link the paras, Samrat cleverly gave space to the audience's mind. Props like karatal, flower, kumkuma were used to create the ambience of spirituality. Dramatizing the simple concepts and presenting the same in an elegant way requires a well-nourished and balanced mind, body and soul. This production is indeed a part of his spiritual journey. The pregnant pauses at the right juncture made us crave more. It was indeed a contemporary work under the covers of mythology.

The musical frame was conceptualised by the performer himself along with his research partners Debopam Das and Samipeshu Das. Mridangam by Shankar Narayanaswamy, nattuvangam by Mohana Iyer, vocal by K.G. Prasad, violin by Nataraj Radhakrishnan, flute by Rupak Mukherjee, ganjira, ghatam, morsing and chenda by Somnath Roy completed the music ensemble.

Esha Banerjee
Esha Banerjee is a performer, teacher and organiser based in Kolkata. She completed her Arangetram under the guidance of Guru Rajalakshmi Venkateshwara. She has been trained in Kathak from her maternal aunt Guru Mira Dasgupta, and completed her initial training in Odissi from Anindita Mukherjee. She is a recipient of Junior Fellowship from CCRT. Currently Esha organises competitions, workshops, seminars and festivals under the banner of Nrityashree.

Click here for all links
Reviews | Home | About | Address Bank | News | Info Centre | Featured Columns