There were two remarkable programmes by promising young talents this past week. The Pracheen Kala Kendra featured the gifted Sitar player Saumitra Chatterjee and Kathak danseuse Shinjini Kulkarni under the Legends of Tomorrow series concerts during their 12th Quarterly Baithak at the Triveni Auditorium and the Delhi Tamil Sangam presented a first rate Bharatanatyam performance by the admirable Ananya Chatterjee at their Thiruvalluvar auditorium. Meticulously trained under Guru Jayalakshmi Eshwar, SNA awardee, internationally acclaimed Bharatanatyam dancer, choreographer and scholarly author, Ananya, is a scholarship holder from Sahitya Kala Parishad and a Bharatanatyam diploma from Kalai Kaviri College of Fine Arts, Trichy. An MA from Delhi University, Ananya is an equally well-groomed Hindustani Classical vocalist and also passionate about theatre. This versatility has obviously enriched her creative talent, especially coupled with her arresting stage presence, in dance.
Accompanied by her dedicated Guru Jayalakshmi Eshwar herself on Nattuvangam, conducting the live orchestra comprising vocals by Vinod Kumar Kannur, Mridangam by Talamani Vettriboopathi and Violin by Shridhar, Ananya opened her Bharatanatyam Margam with Devi Thodaya Mangalam composed in Ragamalikaand Talamalikainvoking Devi Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Amba, embodiment of knowledge, wealth and inner strength; who happen to be the divine consorts of the trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, respectively. Ananya’s perfect lines and flawless “Anga-shuddhi” transformed her into the Goddesses she was enacting, before she offered her salutations to Narayani, the compassionate divine mother who fulfills the pursuit of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha in all beings. It seemed as if the Divine Mother did bless Ananya, the way she stole the hearts of the audience throughout her mesmerising performance with each and every item of the well conceived repertoire.
The Indra Kauthuvam, a lyrical composition of the Tanjore Quartet in ragam Vasanthaset to Misrachapu Talam next, brought the flavour of the Navasandhi Kauthuvam traditionally performed by Devadasis in temple courtyard in olden days, to invoke the blessings of the “AshtaDikpalas” of the eight directions joining at the Dwajasthambamat the centre representing Lord Brahma. The mythological story of Indra, the guardian deity of East with Vajrayudha, wife Indrani, his mount Airavat, Kamadhenu and Kalpa-Vrikshaet al was woven imaginatively into the dance choreography symbolising Indra with Swasthik and Tripataka hasta-mudras.
Varnam, composed by Matha Aandavan Picchai, in Ragam Lathangi and Aadi Taalam brought Ananya’s virtuosity to its peak showcasing her equal command on Nrittaand Abhinaya both. The Nayika’slonging for Murugawas a collage of Bhakthiand Shringardepicted through the mythological stories about how he became the “Shanmukha”, about the bird cock as his banner and the peacock as his vehicle. Ananya depicted it all with her subtle Abhinaya, enchanting not just her beloved Murugabut the fascinated audience too.
Muttuthaandavar’s Padam in RagaKamas, about a lovelorn maiden, looking at the passing chariot ~ palanquin/procession carrying the lord of Chidambaram, to have a darshanand a loving glance of compassion from him to assuage her longing for Nataraja; once again underlined her intense Abhinaya before Ananya concluded her arresting performance with a Lalgudi Jayaraman Thillana in ragam Maand and Aadi-talam, adorned with scintillating rhythmic patterns.
The sophistication of dance deserved much more melodious music. Unfortunately, the melodious Violin of Shridhar and even the crisp Nattuvangamby Guru Jayalakshmi Eshwar were totally drowned in the unbearably loud volume of the Mridangam. The concept and choreography of all the items was by Ananya’s gifted Guru, whom she undoubtedly did proud.
The Kathak recital by Shinjini Kulkarni, the grand-daughter of Pt Birju Maharaj under the Legends of Tomorrow series of Pracheen Kala Kendra at Triveni, had a brilliant live orchestra to accompany her. There was the brilliant Tabla player Anuvrat Chatterjee, the gifted son and disciple of Pt Anindo Chatterjee, Zuheb Hasan on Vocals, Ghulam Mohammad and Zakir Warsi on another pair of Tabla, which could have been a Pakhawaj. The impressive Uthaanon Tabla by Anuvrat created perfect ambience for Shinjini to take her entry.
Tall, vivacious, with a svelte figure, Shinjini attracted the audience with her opening Shiva-Stutifollowed by Uthaan, Thaat, Paran-Aamad “Dhatak thunga…”. She also presented Jhaptala and Ektala before coming to Dhamarof 14 beats cycle, concluding with 14 chakkars(pirouettes), where she incorporated Ginti ki Tihais, “Dhittam dhittam dagdag thuntak dha…” and ‘Meend ka Kaam’ et al, before concluding with a Dadra composed by Bindadin Maharaj; which was preceded by Gat-Bhaav and Aalingan ki Gat. Given her stage presence and the basic technical foundation, Shinjini needed the alchemy of inner fire to transcend the formal prescription. She should also work on a rhythmically assured and assertive “Sam”, along with marking it with lovely poses.