The legacy of legendary Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra is being befittingly carried forward by his son and disciple Ratikant Mohapatra — the 22nd year of the Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award Giving Ceremony was held recently. Apart from remembering his father on such occasions, Srjan Guru Ratikant Mohapatra pays his annual homage to the original master by providing a platform for the best in the field of performing arts. 

Among those around is Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee, sitar exponent Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan, the seventh generation of the Etawah Gharana. He is famous for the vocal phrasing in his improvisations and his rendition of raag charukeshi in rupak taal created enchanting melody. Khan mermerised his listeners with alap, jor, gat and jhala. He followed it up with a dhun, which is an instrumental version of a song and was appreciated with a standing ovation. Rahul Acharya&’s Mangalacharan to Harihara and Harihara sabdapata, choreographed by Durgacharan Ranbir from the original by Guru Deba Prasad Das, was his offering to the Almighty and rasikas. Harihara is Shiva and Vishnu combined and therefore the different aspects of the same ultimate reality of Brahma that depicts the oneness of existence was extolled by the dancer. The descriptions of Shiva and Vishnu in the language of dance had unbelievable clarity. He used Odissi&’s perfect stances and poses that must have been imbibed painstakingly. Pallavi, a pure dance piece, was a delineation laced with unbridled joy and the Odissi phrases gradually melted into sculptural postures to build ultimately up into a crescendo. 

Priye charushile from Geeta Govinda, conceptualised and visualised by Pandit Nityananda Misra, showed Acharya&’s control in emoting the thoughts of Krishna to Radha, who is miffed at his behaviour. A stickler for body fitness, Acharya also has a disciplined mind and the bhakti-sringar in his aesthetic perception is remarkable. He gave expression to Jayadeva&’s fine poetry, where Radha is pacified in myriads of ways.

He rounded off his recital with Moksha. Acharya&’s guru himself accompanied him on the manjira. Niranjan Patra, Sukanta Kumar Kundu, Ramesh Chandra Das and Srinibas Satpathy supported Acharya on mardala, vocal, violin and flute respectively.

Pandit Yogesh Samsi is a well known name in the world of table playing. His audience travelled with him through the clear rhythmical renditions of teentaal, peshkar bistar, kaida, rela and amad in the traditional style as taught to him by Pandit Allah Rakha, who was his guru was for 23 years. The stamp of his mentor was unmistakable. He strummed bandishes for his admiring listeners and was assisted on the harmonium by Tanmay Deochake as he kept the audience hooked on till the very end. Kathaka Ashim Bandhu Bhattacharya was the epitome of a Shiva bhakta. He innovatively made the “Om” sign with graceful hand movements and displayed his grip over taal, laya chhand and gati through upaj and finished with upaj ang ki tehai. That feat required serious mastery on the subject. The powerful tabalia Subhankar Banerjee and Kathaka Bhattacharya tested each other&’s mettle by impromptu rhythmical permutations and combinations. The various technicalities of pure Kathak, like the improvisations of khand jati in different ways were appreciated by connoisseurs. Taal dhamar, a Jailalji Maharaj composition, was very traditional and jathi paran of the Jaipur gharana along with pharmayeshi chakradhar tehai was added dimensions. Incidentally Bhattacharya is well-versed in the Lucknow gharana as well.  Abhinaya on a ghazal by Jagjit Singh was the piece-de-resistance of Bhattacharya&’s performance. The poem expressed the beauty of love and the pain of separation and loss and is an extremely difficult piece to emote. The abstract imagery of going round in circles like a whirling dervish was perhaps expressive of the restlessness felt by the lover. A powerful musical ensemble assisted the dancer. Debasish Sarkar&’s melodious voice won half the battle while Chandrachur Bhattacharjee&’s sitar played the right notes at appropriate times to facilitate the delineation of feelings. Ranjini Bhattacharya played the manjira most effectively.    

Flautist Pandit Praveen Godkhindi assisted by Satyajit Talwalkar on the harmonium practically set the auditorium on fire with their heavenly music. The audience swayed like branches of trees wafted by a cool breeze with the strains of maru bihag, which is a melodious raag. The thoughtful selection of an early evening raag made sense and the kirana gharana taans played on the flute wove expressive patterns with perfect intonation of notes. On the other hand, sargam taans were used with a great deal of ornamentation much to the delight of listeners. The second piece played was a misra pahadi dhun with beautiful folk flavour. Godkhindi has imbibed the gayaki style from his father and guru, Pandit Venkatesh G. He is equally adept at the thantrakari style of playing the flute and delved into many a tuneful innovation.

The ordeals faced by Anasuya mirror those faced by many from time immemorial. Born with a silver spoon, she goes through intense poverty and deprivation thanks to fate. Yet by remaining steadfast in her principles, she achieves the unachievable. Guru Ratikant Mohapatra adopted the story, not from Vaishnav Pani, who is regarded as the father of Geetinatya but from the writings of Kartick Ghosh&’s Geetinatya named Lakhyahira. Dholki, harmonium and clarinet are used as Geetinatya&’s signature tune and the actors sing as well do the movements. 

In Mohapatra&’s choreography, he used sutradhars to narrate episodes and soon after, they became characters in the piece. The constant switch over from being narrators to playing character roles with no change in costume made the story flow like a river. The narrative started with the dancers praying to Lord Jagannath and requesting the viewers to find no faults with their presentation. In this Geetinatya, which Mohapatra named Tyaaga, his dancers do not sing but danced on recorded music. He made use of Dongaria folk and for the portions of sutradhars, he used Sambalpuri folk. The typical walk of Geetinatya called Thakkadhin dha was also incorporated.

Rajashri Praharaj as the pious Anusuya, Preetisha Mohapatra as the debauched king and garuda, Shipra Swain as the king and rishi, Aishwarya Singhdev as Lakhyaheera, Sanjay Kumar Behera as Bishnu Das, Riyanka Chakrabarty, Pragna Paromita Das and Ritu Sengupta as sutradhars provided aesthetic pleasure. Entries and exits were smoothly executed and the lighting by Jaydev Das and Debiprasad Mishra brought Tyaaga alive on stage. 

All the lyrics of the Geetinatya have been written by Jaydev Das. Music was arranged by Tarakanta Panda — Ratikant Mohapatra was on mardala, Lakshmikant Palit, Rupak Kumar Parida, Mitali Chinara, Khitiprakash Mohapatra, Bandish Pait, Tapu Mishra, and Ira Mohanty on vocals, Prabir Sarkar, Soumitra Byapari and Agnimitra Behera on violin, Srinivas Satpathy on flute, M Simadri on flute and clarinet, Bhabtosh Mohanty on surmandal, Rabishankar Pradhan on sitar and Bibhuprasad Tripathy on keyboards.