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Purusharth explores masculine spirit and vitality
- Vijay Shanker

April 17, 2024

Sam Ved Society for Performing Arts celebrated the 34th Pt Durgalal Smruti Samaroh and 75th birth anniversary of Pt Durgalal with the Purusharth Festival featuring performances by three leading male dancers in three distinct classical dance styles - Bharatanatyam by Praveen Kumar, Kathak by Sourav Chakraborty and Kuchipudi by Gururaja on 1st March at Veer Savarkar auditorium in Shivaji Park, Mumbai.

The Pt Durgalal Smruti Samaroh is an annual event, organised by Sam Ved as a mark of tribute to Pt Durgalal, a dynamic and veteran Kathak exponent of the Jaipur Gharana, who left for his heavenly abode while he was in his early 40’s but left an indelible mark on the cultural scenario and his legacy of disciples. Uma Dogra is an ardent disciple who religiously organises this festival to take the legacy forward and also as mark of reverence to the great maestro. The two festivals organised by Sam Ved are the Pt Durgalal Smruti Samaroh and the Raindrops Festival featuring young talented dancers.

Purusharth Festival - Souvik Chakraborty
Souvik Chakraborty

The programme commenced with the vibrant Kathak performance by Kolkata based exponent Souvik Chakraborty. He commenced with a beautiful invocation to Surya Devata (Sun God), “Surya  vinashini, Surya ki  pujan  karo”, blending well with evocative vocal rendering by Vaibhav Mankad, followed with Teentaal Vilambit, Dhamar, Tihai, Chakardaar paran, the typical circular movements which is considered the mainstay of the Kathak dance style. It was interesting to watch the young dancer, dance with effortless ease, proficiency and precision.

The highlight of Souvik’s performance was the expressional interpretation of Dr Dharamvir Bharati’s “Kanu  Priya” that portrays the disturbed and emotional state of Radha as she realises that Krishna will soon leave her, coupled with the poetic recitation by Sunil Sunkara, the natural and subtle expressions creating the rasa anubhuti with the audience, left a fine impression. Souvik received good musical support from Biswajit Pal on tabla, vocal by Vaibhav Mankad and melodious sitar by Alka Gujar.

Purusharth Festival - Gururaju

Kuchipudi performance by Gururaju was particularly noteworthy for its vivacious quality, flamboyant style with leaps and jumps, creating a lasting impression. He is the senior disciple of Guru Vyjayanti Kashi. He has already carved a niche for himself as a powerful performer. Gururaju succeeded in the dramatic display of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu in the Dashavataram, followed with the Mohana Raga Tarangam, “Neelamegha  shareera,” an extract from Narayana Teertha’s Krishna Leela Tarangini, that describes the pranks of Krishna and his glory. Dancing on the rim of the brass plate is the highlight of this number. Moreover it has a philosophical overtone too pertaining to the significance of life. Gururaju deserves to be seen in more festivals.

Purusharth Festival - Praveen Kumar
Praveen Kumar

The last performer of the festival was Praveen Kumar, leading Bharatanatyam exponent and mentor in Bangalore. Praveen danced the Tygaraja Pancharatna Kriti in which the focus was on Krishna and not Rama, similar to a Ninda stuti. The saint poet questions the Lord and wonders as to why Krishna cheats and takes everyone for a ride. ‘You were born as the eighth child of Devaki but drifted on to become the son of Yashoda, you commit all the misdeeds and blame others for it.’ This number was effectively rendered with fine mukhaja abhinaya with a subtle lining. After rendering of an ashtapadi, Praveen concluded the performance with an intricate Swararanjini Thillana. It was quite exhilarating to watch male dancers performing so well which proves the point that male dancers are fine dancers too.

Vijay Shankar
Vijay Shankar is a Kuchipudi and Kathakali exponent, teacher, bilingual journalist, arts critic and actor.

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