Artistes honoured by the Sangeet Natak Akademi played true to form, writes tapati chowdhurie
TH VINAYAKRAM, ghatam vidwan has been honoured with the Fellowship of the Sangeet Natak Akademi for 2012 for his contribution to Indian music. In a unique performance at Meghdoot Theatre III, he presented the Tanjore style of ghatam playing. He displayed a highly individualistic spirit within the framework of tradition. A master of improvisation, he has accompanied stalwarts with his stunning complex rhythms and is well known for his crisp playing among musicians of both the West and East. A recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award as well as a Grammy Award, he is an asthana vidwan of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham.
Carnatic vocalist OS Thiagrajan and mridangam artiste KV Prasad received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for their contribution in their respective fields of Carnatic music. At Meghdoot Theatre III, three, Thiagrajan sang two ragas — Panthuvarali and Keerwani — to a highly appreciative audience and was accompanied on the mridangam by Prasad. Both are trained in the Thanjavur style, which is the mecca of Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam.
Vocalist Rajshekhar Mansur also received the Akademi Award for his contribution to Hindustani music. Son of illustrious vocalist Mallikarjun Mansur of the Jaipur Attauli gharana, he is a name and impressed the audience by first singing Sawan Nat and then Meghabali. He was accompanied by Vinod Lele on the tabla and Vinay Mishra on the harmonium.
Sabir Khan was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for his contribution to tabla music.
Vedantam Ramalinga Sastry, an awardee of 2012 and trained by eminent gurus, is now a bright star in the Kuchipudi firmament. He presented Keechakudu Vadam — the killing of Keechaka by Bhima, during the last year of exile of the five Pandava brothers along with their consort, Draupadi. The 13th year of their exile had to be spent in agyatbas — in hiding. The kingdom of Virat was where they decided to spend their year of disguise. Keechaka, the brother of the queen of Birat, had taken a fancy to Sairandhry-Draupadi — the queen&’s companion. When Draupadi could not stop his advances, she took the aid of Bhima to annihilate him. Sastry was in the powerful role of Keechaka. His display of felony roused the emotion of disgust in the audience, soon to be replaced by mockery and laughter when he was duped and tricked by Bhima into thinking that Draupadi was awaiting his love advances under the veil of her female attire.
Shyama Sasidharan as Draupadi proved her dancing mettle. Her slim and agile body moved like the breeze, swirling and swaying to get out of the clutches of her pursuer. Nattuvanar Vedantam Venkata Durga Bhavani helped the movement of the drama. Bala Tripurari Sundari as the queen was authentic.
Jay Narayan Samal got the Sangeet Natak Akademi award, 2012, for his contribution to Chhau dance. Sangeet Natak Akademi&’s Chhau Project started simultaneously at Seraikela and Delhi in 1998 with Guru Lingaraj Acharya at the helm of affairs at Seraikela and his son, Sashadhar Acharya, manning the Delhi fort. With the passing away of the senior guru at Seraikela in 2003, veteran Jay Narayan Samal was elevated to the position of project head at Seraikela. The creative Sashadhar Acharya followed his father&’s footsteps and brought in a lot of changes to present Chhau in the proscenium stage. He rechoreographed most of the pieces for stage presentations. An admiring group of connoisseurs witnessed three pieces of rare dances in Meghdoot III. The Chhau evening started with the traditional Jatraghar – paying obeisance to God through music, while the dancers folded their hands in prayer offstage. This was in raga Desh and a 16-matra tal.
“Siva Parvaty” was the first dance, the main emotion of this being “sringar ras”. The amorous couple resort to a six-matra tal in Shyamakalyan and Bairagya ragas, before the birth of Kartikeya, their son. The Radha-Krishna dance performed had a rare angle. Radha is jealous of Krishna&’s flute, which he holds with both hands and adorns his lips. Radha is desirous of learning to be a flautist. The dance was beautiful and saw the divine couple in dalliance as they both fade from the stage holding on to the bansuri.
Shashadhar Acharya reconstructed the old numbers and polished them to be of lasting value. “Hansa” was the symbolic representation of the swan –hansa. The dance was of a seven-matra tal in raga Jogiya. It imitated the movements of the swan in as realistic a manner as possible.
Shashadhar Acharya himself played the dhol along with Sapan Kumar Acharya, and repeated the tal patterns with great gusto. Ranjit Kumar Acharya played the nagada while Vikas Babu and Siddharth Dalbehra were on the shenai and flute respectively.
PV Vijaykumar of the International Kathakali Centre was accredited with the Sangit Natak Akademi Award in Kathakali for 2012. He and Amaljith enacted the roles of Narakasura and his wife with clarity. Narakasura, though a son of Vishnu, is the most feared demon, blessed with a long life. He sees the condition of his sister Nakrathundi at the hands of Jayantha, son of Indra — the god of heaven — and promises to avenge her insult, but ends up losing his life.
Using the typical Kathakali language, PV Vijaykumar unfolded the story in a monologue. Using elaborate hand gestures and a highly stylised language, he was able to take the story forward.
Nearer home, Kalamandalam Kolkata presented “Paschime Robi” — the influence of Western tunes on Rabindranath Tagore — to an august audience at Rabindra Sadan. The poet was not bound by barriers of rigidity and his creative mind was ever soaring. It is well known that songs like “Alo aamar alo” and “Hare rere” have the stamp of Western music. Songs such as “Aha Aji ae Basante” — influenced by 19th century Irish poet Thomas Moore –“Kali kali balore aaj”, “Phule phuledhole dhole”, “Purano sei diner katha”, that were chosen, had the influences of Western tunes. Malabika Sen and Pedro S Kundu choreographed suitable dance pieces to these popular songs and enthralled the audience.