06 January, 2015
After the success of Ramayana last year, GuruAnithaGuha has come up with two parts of another great epic, the Mahabharata. The productions are being staged in 18 venues this season! “I have been doing productions for many years now, even when group performance was not in vogue” commented Guru AnithaGuha. Off late, due to current circumstances and back to back shows, it’s a little strenuous, but it remains my passion” she added.
The first part, VanaParvam beginning with Panchali receiving the AkshayaPatram from Lord Surya was a thumping opening. The cued up Namaste that spread like a lotus for the Suryashtakam, the seven white horses all synchronously moving and the sound of hoofs in the percussion together set the mood.
This was followed by Panchaliaccusing Krishna for deserting the Pandavas; the play of words in simple Tamil added humor while being direct in meaning and easy to understand. The contrast of the angered and disappointed Draupadi was well highlighted against the understanding and forgiving nature of the Pandavas by RakshitaSaravanan. “She first got the role because of her thick and long hair…its real! Later she learnt the nuances of the character” said AnithaGuha while introducing the artistes.
Preceding the event where Arjuna receivesthe Pashupatastram, there was an introduction of Shiva and Parvathi in Kailash, dance of Shiva as the hunter with his tribe, the introduction of Mukasuran as the wild boar; all through which Arjuna played by Shrutipriya, disciple of Suryanarayanmurthy, stood on one leg in penance! The boar enacted by Renjith was choreographed with Kalari and yogasana movements.
Invited to the Devalokam, Arjuna witnesses the dance of the apsaras or “beauties who don’t visit a parlor!” as Revathi put it. Urvashi played by MedhaHari(also playing Sathyabhama) tries to seduceArjuna and when hedoesn’t heed, she curses him to lose his manhood.
Then we see the events on Bhoolakam where the rest of the Pandavas and Draupadi are in a Theerthayatra. Stories ofVatapiand Villvalanasuras, Bhagirathan’s penance, Vishwamitra and Kashyapa muni’s ashrams are all visually told to them as well as the audience. When Panchali faints, Gadothgaja enters in pomp to “Jai jaiGadothgaja” incorporated in a Jathi and the Pandavas are carried out. This scene was dramatic and executed withperfect coordination.
The focus now shifts to Bheema played by ShrutiKrishnamoorthy, who went in search of a flower for his wife and meets an old monkey; none other than great Hanuman. Bheemais humbled by Hanuman who is also Vayuputran and is Bheema’s brother.
Duryodhana comes to see for himself if the Pandavas are suffering and in turn gets punished by Chitrasenawho takes him prisoner, dragging Duryodhana tied to his chariot. The contrasting nature of Bheema who thinks ‘eye for an eye’ and the forgiving Dharma who frees even his enemy was well brought out. Internal differences should not be displayed when outsiders attack was well conveyed by SathvikaRamani playing Yudishtra.
The music and lyrics by NeyveliSantanagopalan and P R Venkatasubramanium was simple and effective throughout, as especially brought out the contrast between humble Rukmini and pompous Sathyabhamawhile with Krishna. This with the parallel scene of Durvasagar muni visiting the Pandavas culminating with Krishna coming to save Panchali and his miracle with the Akshayapatram served as the lead to the grand finale.
The play had students of all age groups from Jyotsna, the youngest to Vidya, a mother who has just joined dance!
The recorded music by Hariprasad, Sriranjani, Vasudha Ravi and Shravan on vocal; Suresh in percussion, Ranjani on violin, Atul Kumar on flute and PadminiLakshminarayana on Veena were flawless.
Cleveland Sundaram, the ‘Karyakartha’ as AnithaGuha described him, appreciated the efforts of the “perfectionists.”
“It gives me extraordinary joy and pleasure to stage productions. The children, some studying, others working, balance their time so well and are very hardworking and cooperative” said AnithaGuha. “It’s only possible with the efforts and support of my students, their parents, some well-wishers…I know no other world outside my home and Bharatanjali!” she added.
“Pavithra Bhatt, disciple of Deepak Mazumdarwho played Krishna today has the potential to take the dramatic aspect of dance dramas ahead” she appreciated.
The finale to the chant of “Krishna Krishna Jaya Hare” was lilting and caught on to the audience who went home dancing in their hearts.