Gudi Sambaralu with Bijayani Sathpathy & Dr Anuradha Jonnalagadda’s ‘Mahakali’
This time Paramparaa Foundation chose CCRT as the venue for Gudi Sambaralu with the legendary Bijayani Sathpathy setting the stage for the classical dance extravaganza followed with performances by Shiva N Rao, Katyayani Kanak, Anusha Srinivas, Vaishnavi Prativadi, Aparna Dhulipalla, Voggu Praveen, and Sreenaiah Bakki
Text by Sahitya Ramkumar
When your Instagram feed from a day before is filled up frantically with the invite of a particular show, you know you just cannot miss it. And there I was at the CCRT, Hyderabad, for Gudi Sambaralu.
Gudi Sambaralu never fails to make the simplest of places into a performance arena that every dancer dreams of.
It was absolutely heartening to see the auditorium fill up before time and the place was full of warm chatter and greetings that was most awaited after the long break that the pandemic had forced us into. Beautifully and thoughtfully dressed up Rasikas, art connoisseurs, art lovers and practitioners and students of dance had filled up the outdoor space.
The show was kick started with the formal lighting of lamp and lovely video compilation of the previous artists the organisation had hosted, and then began the narration of the most awaited performer of the evening, Bijayani Sathpathy.
Bijayini Didi as she is fondly referred to brought to us excerpts from her well acclaimed solo production, “Abhipsaa- A Seeking”. As she started on stage one could not help but notice the very simplified and graceful yellow costume accompanied with minimalistic Sharma that she adorned .The performance contained two slow, meditative and intense pieces. The first one was the bringing to life of the famous verses by Shri Adi Shankaracharya on Lord Ardhanareeswara. The music flowed and so did didi. It was almost like statues coming alive. Each movement could be captured and relished. There she was, the goddess giving us young artistes our lesson of the day – how sweet and beautiful the fruits of rigorous ritual like Riyaz could be.
The second piece was a novel addition to the art form itself. Didi chose to move in the Odisha vocabulary to a popular Carnatic Thillana in Raga Desh composed by the legendary violin maestro, Shri Lalgudi Jayaraman. This segment was called vibhanga – and every movement was etched and alive. Every pose was struck absolutely and gracefully with even the fingers and toes having precise intent. The audience was taking home something beautiful.
The show quickly flipped from meditative energy to explosive energy as Surya N Rao took the stage. The audience watched with much anticipation as the props on the dais and the title “Ravana” had already piqued everyone’s curiosity.
What followed was well orchestrated choreography that brought alive the last day of Ravana’s life and deeds of his life. This was interestingly woven together with texts and narratives from several languages. One could hear some well known poetry like the ‘Shiva Thandava Stotra’ and the traditional Kuchipudi ‘Manduka Shabdam’ and some new literature that was offered to the audience to explore.
Exquisite sound and lights specially engineered by Keerthi Kumar were a highlight of the production. The artist par excellence used his training in dance forms including Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi,Kathak, contemporary Yakshgana and much more to bring the colourful delight alive. The piece was roller coaster on its own. It would be an understatement to say that it felt like a movie was being presented live and alive.
The evening was to end with “Mahakali”,an intense production that was to be presented by artistes from Hyderabad and already much dear to the fellow artistes present in the audience. Dr Anuradha jonalagadda Tadakamalla’s mind blowing brainchild ‘Mahakali’ was there to sweep us away into a dark, mysterious and enthralling world. They began with an interesting segment that described what Time was to the goddess in context. It was so delightful that it left the audience gasping nodding and applauding. It was very interesting to see the simple yet powerful costumes that were designed and draped with much thought and detail.
What followed was impeccable choreography most definitely impregnated with well researched hastas, mudras, text and narratives from the ancient scriptures. Again what was offered to the audience along with a breathtaking experience was a piece of new learning and exploration. The artistes playing the rakshasas, Shumbha and Nishumbha were invested enough for us to feel the true rasa of ‘bhayanaka’. And of course the ladies playing Mahakali brought it out with absolute conviction.
Shri DSV Sastry, who seemed to have a loyal audience base to himself has out done the music score for the production. The sound scape seems to be a thoughtful attempt to trigger the feeling of fear and strength within us. It was again an experience to cherish. absolute justice was done to the word “ghora”.
Hyderabad definitely spent their chilly evening watching something fresh and experiencing something new and different in the very vocabulary of our ancient classical dance forms; more surely the audience, who enjoyed having companions around them to share the roller coaster of emotions, applaud and share the energy of the artistes in unison at a live show that we have all longed for for long enough. The city is already looking forward to more of these experiences to come by.