On the eve of Janmashtami, the festival heralding the incarnation of Bhagavan Sri Krishna, Ramakrishna Mission, organised a unique dance presentation titled “Geetopadesham” on 13 August as part of the ongoing 150 th Birth Anniversary Celebrations of Sister Nivedita in the Capital.
The dance presentation was a unique ‘jugalbandi’ of two distinct Indian dance forms, Kathak of North India and Kathakali from Kerala, never attempted before. It was performed by the Calcutta duo Kalamandalam Gautam and Sudip Chakraborty respectively of ‘Natyalok’, an organization devoted to the growth and popularity of Kathakali at home and abroad. It was a brilliant attempt to pay homage to the perennial teachings of Lord Krishna as revealed to
Arjuna when he was incapacitated with his despondency and inner conflict in the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
Begining with the epic Mahabharata war, the ballet depicted the message of SriKrishna as recorded in the Bhagavad Geeta and some of the memorable incidents associated with the Mahabharata. Kalamandalam Gautam, the Kathakali dancer played multiple roles including that of Arjuna while Sudip Chakraborty played the role of Lord Krishna in the Kathak style.
Kathakali is distinguished by the elaborately colorful make-up, costumes and facemasks and the actor speaks in a ‘sign-language’ where the word part of the character dialogue are expressed through hand signs or ‘mudras’, while emotions and mood are expressed through facial and eye movements. The dance form itself is sluggish and slow. In contrast, Kathak emphasizes on rhythmic foot movements, adorned with small bells (Ghungroo), and the movement harmonises to the music. In this performance, Kalamandalam Gautam’s Kathakali make-up was
close to perfection while Sudip Chakraborty’s Kathak movements were nimble and synchronized to the dot with the tuneful background music.
The forty minute Jugalbandi, Geetopadesham which impact fully portrayed the importance of the Bhagavad Gita teachings relevant in our troubled times, mesmerized the audience as it unfolded.