Click here for all links

Social media links

- Satish Suri
Photos: R.N.Sudhi

May 29, 2024

The Kalabhivyakti event at The Institute of World Culture on the 30th of April organized by Bhanumati Nritya Kalamandiram, was a remarkable convergence of artistic flair and scholarly insight. The presence of esteemed individuals such as Arjun Bharadwaj and Dr. Shobha Shashikumar, bridging the gap between academic research and the performing arts, provided a rich tapestry of perspectives. The performance of 'Dharmadandva' by Sheela Chandrasekhar and Deepthi Radhakrishna, added a profound layer of cultural narrative, allowing the audience to traverse the moral landscape of Ravana's life through the expressive medium of dance. Such events underscore the importance of interdisciplinary approaches in understanding the multifaceted nature of art and its intrinsic connection to human experience and societal values.

Arjun Bharadwaj, Madhulika Acharya, Dr. Shobha Shashikumar
Arjun Bharadwaj, Madhulika Acharya, Dr. Shobha Shashikumar

Arjun Bharadwaj's insights on the relevance of epics highlighted their enduring impact on human emotion and moral values. He emphasized how epics serve as a form of implicit education through their captivating narratives, entertaining while instilling higher spiritual virtues. By drawing examples from characters like Maruti and Ravana, Bharadwaj illustrated how epics portray timeless metaphors of selflessness and the consequences of ego-driven actions.

Shobha Shashikumar added to this discourse by sharing her experimental experiences with the emotional richness of epics. She emphasized that life itself is full of emotions, and art provides a platform for artistes to undergo self-discovery through the portrayal of characters. Shobha Shashikumar advocated for a deep immersion in the character, emphasizing the importance of authenticity (Satvika) in embodying their essence. She also stressed the significance of Angika (physical expression) being subservient to Satvika (emotional truth), ensuring that the portrayal remains authentic and resonant with the audience.

Both speakers affirmed the timeless relevance of epics in shaping artistic expression and moral understanding. They highlighted the freedom of creative liberty for artistes while emphasizing the need to stay true to the essence and vision of the original composition. By merging philosophical insights with practical artistic techniques, Arjun Bharadwaj and Shobha Shashikumar underscored the profound impact of epics on art and society, reinforcing their enduring significance in contemporary discourse. The discussion was moderated by Madhulika Acharya.

The portrayal of Ravana's inner conflict between Dharma and Adharma, as depicted in this narrative, offers a profound exploration of human morality and the choices individuals face. Ravana's introspection after a troubling dream and the subsequent dialogue with Lanka Lakshmi and Mandodari reveal the complexities of his character and the consequences of his actions. Through Ravana's recollection of past events, including warnings from Vibhishana and his coercion of Mareecha, the narrative highlights the internal struggle between pursuing personal ambition and adhering to moral principles. Mandodari's attempts to reason with him further underscore the importance of ethical considerations in decision making.

The presence of Ravana's alter ego, advocating for his self-interest and ego, symbolizes the perennial conflict between inner virtues and temptations. This conflict was presented as a universal aspect of human nature, where individuals grapple with competing impulses and moral dilemmas. Ultimately, the narrative emphasized the significance of individual choices in shaping one's destiny and the broader consequences of those choices on society. By portraying the internal struggle of a legendary figure like Ravana, the narrative invited reflection on the complexities of morality and the enduring relevance of ethical principles in human affairs.


'Dharmadandva' emerged as a transformative work, redefining the portrayal of mythological characters with depth and complexity. The collaboration between Dr Shatavadhini Ganesh and Arjun Bharadwaj has given rise to a narrative that challenges the audience to reconsider their preconceived notions about the nature of heroism and villainy. The play's exploration of Ravana's life through the lens of Dharma and Adharma offered a fresh perspective on the age-old epic, encouraging a dialogue on the fluidity of moral judgments.

The performances of Sheela Chandrasekhar and Deepthi Radhakrishna were pivotal in bringing this nuanced interpretation to life. Their ability to navigate the emotional landscape of Ravana's character showcased not only their histrionic talents but also their commitment to storytelling that engages and provokes thought. The play's success lay in its capacity to humanize a traditionally vilified figure, presenting him as a complex individual facing moral dilemmas, rather than a one-dimensional antagonist. This bold reimagining of Ravana's story in 'Dharmadandva' is a significant contribution to the arts, offering a platform for critical reflection on the themes of justice, power, and the human condition. It stands as a testament to the power of collaborative creativity and the enduring relevance of classical literature in modern discourse.

The performance was a symphony of traditional Indian classical music, where each artiste contributed to a harmonious blend of sounds and rhythms. Debur Srivatsa's compositions were elevated by Mahesh Swamy's soulful flute melodies, while Sri Hari Rangaswamy's mridangam beats added depth and complexity. Sharat Suryanarayana's nattuvangam and Prashanth's veena strums intertwined to create a rich tapestry of musical expression. Karthik Vydhatri's rhythm pads infused a contemporary edge, complementing the classical instruments. The entire auditory experience was visually amplified by the masterful lighting effects of Surya Rao, which not only enhanced the performance but also captivated the audience, creating an immersive experience that was both auditory and visual.

Satish Suri
Bangalore based Satish Suri is an avid dance rasika besides being a life member of the Music and Arts Society.

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