Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma (1813 to 1846) patronized a cultural renaissance
in South India. The Maharaja still reigns the realm of musicians and artistes.
To pay tribute to his legacy the Government of Kerala confers Swathi
Puraskar to maestros who leave their signature on Indian music. This
year's recipient is Pandit Jasraj, an eminent Hindustani musician. And
a three-day music-dance festival from 18th April made the cultural capital
of Kerala festive.
"He will not come looking for you," her Sakhi tells. Yes, even the sunflower turns sunward. And the human needs to search for the divine.
"Go garbed in blue, when the deep, blue night is still to seek the beautiful blue god, Krishna."
The white melting into the blue is beautiful indeed. Here again it is the sakhi who speaks of Radha's travails. The erotic is sublimated with the sakhi giving a sense of direction and spiritual dimension to the theme of love.
What is unique in the rendition is the role of the sakhi. Sakhi takes the centre-stage, not the virahotkandita nayika that has become a stereotype in our classical dance numbers. Sakhi is the mediator, felicitator and the interpreter. Two lyrics from two different composers are taken to juxtapose two approaches that are complementary. Symbolically, the purusha goes to prakriti: the feminine seeks the masculine. The mystic theme of divine coming to the human and the human seeking the divine makes the performance wholesome. Even at the gross physical level of love, man-woman relationship is cast on an equal plane.
The last item was a thillana a popular Swathi composition. Incorporating the rhythmic variety of Carnatic tala system in ragamalika and thalamalika, the fast number was a fitting grand finale for the subdued aesthetics of a hauntingly slow Mohiniattam concert.
Ably supported by an orchestral team, the dance and the music jelled in wonderful harmony: Vocal - Changanasseri Madhavan Namputhiri, violin-VK Haridas, veena-Trichur Murali, Edakka-Krishna Kumar, Mrudangam - Vaipin Satish, and Nattuvangam -Kottayam Unnikrishnan
Neena Prasad has graced distinguished stages, both at home and abroad and is one of the prominent artistes of the younger generation of Mohiniattam dancers. Noted for focused expression, chiseled movements, a wonderful sense of rhythm and innovative choreography, her performance is aesthetically captivating, filling the audience with a serenity non parallel. Her mind caught in the traumas of our times is eager for experiments. Mohiniattam which badly needs innovative choreographers is sure to go a long way with Neena Prasad, the researcher and the institution builder who takes her disciples on board to uncharted seas.
of Mohiniattam should be taken to many people around the world. In my own
little way, if I can achieve that, then that is what I will cherish..."
Dr. Neena Prasad looks into future.
Padma Jayaraj is a regular contributor to www.narthaki.com