A spellbinding Bharatanatyam recital by Vaijayanthimala Bali, the veteran classical dancer and the glamorous yester-year actress of Hindi cinema, was the high point of the Amar-Jyoti Concert-2016 organised by Pt Chatur Lal Society at the Kamani Auditorium last week. The annual event is the Society’s musical tribute to the unknown soldiers of our country. Vaijayanthimala Bali was also honoured with Pt Chatur Lal Excellence Award this year, which happens to be the 90th birth anniversary of Pt Chatur Lal and the Silver Jubilee year of this society established in his name.

 Vaijayanthimam Bali left the audience spellbound with her impeccable Angashudhhi, dignified simplicity and evergreen grace and charm. She opened her performance with "Todaya-Mangalam", the ancient traditional temple ritual performed as an invocatory item as an auspicious prelude to the festival. The  rarely-seen piece was based on Annamacharya Kirtanam "Jay Janaki-Ramana….", extolling the virtues of Lord in his varied names and manifestations. The 2000-year-old tradition of "Todaya-Mangalam" was revived by her way back in 1960s. The opening invocation in Ragam Nattai was the Todaya and the Mangalam composed in Raag-Malika, Tala-Malika concluded with  Pantuvarali.

This detailed piece was followed by the famous Dhanashri Thillana of Swathi Thirunal, preceded by "Brindravan ki kunjgalin mein naachat Giridhari", immortalised by the one and only M S Subuulaxmi. The captivating concert concluded with the "Shubha-Mangalam", composed by Muthuswamy Dikshitar in Ragam Vasantam set to Aditalam. The excellent wing support by the live orchestra and the admirable anchoring by Usha R K enhanced the beauty of her dreamlike dance.

Amar-Jyoti Concert concluded with the mesmerising Sarod Jugalbandi by Ud Aman Ali Khan and Ayan Ali Khan, the gifted sons and disciples of Ud Amjad Ali Khan. Being the younger artists of the evening, they should have performed earlier, but unfortunately they got the stage to themselves very late in the evening. They were accompanied by Fateh Singh Gangani on Pakhawaj and Pranshu Chaturlal on Tabla. Opening their Sarod duet with raga Puriya-Kalyan, they played a detailed Aalap-Jod Jhala followed by a slow composition in Jhaptaal and the Drut one set to Teen-taal. The beauty of their mutual understanding, complimenting each other with appropriate touches and phrases, was admirable. The sensitive deliberation of the raga during Aalap was followed by the pulsating Jod, where Fateh Singh Gangani’s Pakhawaj created the desired effect of its vibrancy.

The curtain raiser of this grand event was held a day earlier at the Azad Bhavan Auditorium with a documentary film screening on Pt Chatur Lal followed by the felicitation of Vaijayanthimala Bali with the Chatur Lal Excellent Award and the launch of "Taal-Junction", a confluence of Swar-Laya and Nritya produced, composed and arranged by Pranshu Chatur Lal, the brilliant percussionist and grandson of Pt Chatur Lal. Pranshu, on Tabla and a number of percussion instruments, led a team of young talents, with Danish Ali Khan on Violin, Mehtab Ali Niazi on Sitar, Nathalia on Flute, Naman Sharma on Keyboards and Garima Arya performing Kathak. Taal-Junction also ptoved to be the confluence of the traditional and contemporary trends of our classical Music.

Ananda-Kalika

The other event in the week gone by was Ananda-Kalika, a thematic Bharatanatyam presentation by a young exponent of the classical dance style, Akshaya Aruna-Kumar from Chennai, who performed at the Stein Auditorium of the India Habitat Centre. Akshaya, a BTech engineer working with a multinational IT firm in Chennai, was initiated into Bharatanatyam by Shantha and Guru V P Dhananjayan. Groomed further under Guru Krishnakumari Narendran, Akshaya is also a Carnatic classical vocalist and a regular artiste of AIR and Doordarshan, both as a Carnatic vocalist and a Bharatanatyam dancer.

The dance evening Ananda-Kalika, divided into four parts, opened with an invocation to the divine mother Nav-Durga, the creator, protector and ultimate destination of us all. The song "Lalitha Nava-Rathna Mala" was very thoughtfully chosen for this piece describing her virtues connected with the Nav-Ratnas or the qualities of the nine gems. The nine ragas used for the Ragamalika, in which it was composed by Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan were raga Vasanta, Neelambari, Saarmati, Hansanandi, Natakuranji, Shanmukhpriya, Hindolam, Shivaranjani and Shree, set to Adi Talam.

The second item was based on a poem by the famous poet Subramanium Bharati depicting the Vatsalya Rasa, a mother’s love for her child, while the third piece was based on Shringar Rasa. Akshaya concluded her recital with the Bhakti Rasa, depicting the Desh-Bhakti in Vande Mataram, which was preceded by a beautiful Tillana in raga Desh, paving the path for Vande Mataram, which is composed in the same raga. Akshaya thus tried to exhibit her Abhnaya ability in varied Rasas and Bhavas.

Akshaya has very good sense of rhythm and has full command over the technical aspect of her chosen dance form but it will take time to mature in Abhinaya, which is just a matter of time.  She has all the ingredients of a good dancer and has a promising future.