The Indradhanush Festival in Mumbai
- Mythili Zatakia

March 18, 2012

Tejas Foundation, Mumbai, hosted a one-of-a-kind classical dance festival on March 11, 2012 to honour three highly accomplished and revered Gurus. At the 3rd Annual Indradhanush Festival, Dr. Padma Sharma for Kathak (Mumbai), Guru Smita Shastri for Kuchipudi (Ahmedabad) and Dr. Vinod Hasal for Kathak (South Africa) were conferred the title 'Nrityavid' in appreciation of the arts and artistes who have taken their respective art forms and Indian culture beyond borders and enhanced it to an entirely new level. This explains the three categories of awards given: one within the city of Mumbai, one within India, and one outside India.

The Tejas Foundation, the brainchild of Bhavnna C Shah, strives for the upliftment and betterment of the arts in terms of its social, cultural and educational stature with the aid of numerous workshops, festivals and more importantly provides encouragement to the under-privileged. This foundation essentially aims at felicitating artistes who have rendered their lives to dance and the art forms that they worship through a lifetime of dedication.

Amidst the crowd was a fantastic company of dignitaries who were present to show their support such as Ashutosh Ghorpade, the Directorate of Cultural Affairs in Maharashtra, Dilip Shinde, the Joint Director of the MTDC, Mr. Vinod, General of the ICCR, South Africa, Ramesh Purav, senior folk dance maestro, Prakash Khandge, the Head of Department of the Loka Kala Department of Mumbai University, senior Kathak exponent Guru Ganesh Hiralal Hasal, Odissi exponent/guru Jhelum Paranjape, Bharatanatyam Guru Deepak Mazumdar, renowned Bharatanatyam gurus Raja Mani, Rohini Gokhale, Sharda Ganesh and Rupa Nadgauda.


Krishna Leela Tarangini
The audience witnessed some inspiring performances such as an invocatory Bharatanatyam performance by Dr. Sanddhya V Pureccha’s disciples, followed by a mesmerizing dance recital by Kuchipudi Guru Smita Shastri and lastly, a captivating Kathak performance by Dr. Vinod Hasal himself.

The Bharatanatyam recital comprised excerpts from the Sanskrit text Krishna Leela Tarangini, written by Narayana Tirtha in the 16th century. Mandira Joshi, Chitra Dalvi and Suhani Dhanki presented three pieces from this text which were conceptualized and choreographed by Dr. Pureccha. They commenced with an item on Lord Ganapati from the first tarangam of Krishna Leela Tarangini in Saurashtra raga and Chatushra atta talam, in which they evocatively described the form and virtues of Lord Ganesha. The next piece in khanda atta was descriptive of the childhood pranks of Lord Krishna, brilliantly choreographed in the format of Nritta Pada in Raga Karnatasaranga and tala khanda atta from the fourth tarangam, the Gopalavarnanam. The killing of the serpent, Kaliya Mardan and the tending of cows by Balarama and Krishna were narrated in the form of a shloka and subsequently, the story of Krishna playing the ball game with his friend, the fight with the serpent Kaliya and his triumph over the snake. A befitting conclusion from the same chapter was the prayer song “Paahi paahi jagamohana Krishna...” sung by the cowherds, composed in Raga Nadanamakriya and mishra chapu talam. The accompaniment was provided by Pureccha on the nattuvangam, Sivaprasad on the vocal, Satish Krishnamoorthy on the mridangam and Ragvendra Baliga on the flute.

Smita Shastri, a highly accomplished Kuchipudi exponent rendered an inspiring performance with elegance, grace and deep involvement. She began her recital with the preliminary ritual in the Kuchipudi dance, the Rangapuja in Ragamalika and adi talam. “Angikam bhuvanam yasya...” and “Bharatakula bhaagya kanikena...” both of which are well known shlokas from the Abhinaya Darpanam were performed by her with the flawless and deep rooted purity of a senior dancer.  Not only was this abundant in abhinaya, but she also showcased chollus and jatis with great strength and poise.

Her second item transcended all barriers of age, as she portrayed Radha’s sakhi, who advises her to give up her pride and go to Krishna as early as possible to the bank of the river Yamuna. In this ashtapadi from Jayadeva’s Geeta Govindam, the episodes incorporated dwell upon Krishna’s pranks of stealing the gopi’s clothes when they go to the river banks to bathe. The sakhi also warns Radha to remove her anklets as their sound would alert the neighbours of her secret meeting. She decorates Radha for her union with Krishna, pleads with her to hurry up and proceed to be with him. Sakhi helps Radha in finding Krishna who is hiding behind the bushes and at last Radha meets her lord. “Yamuna tire vasati vane man more....” was proficiently rendered by Smita Shastri.

Smita Shastri

Dr. Vinod Hasal

The concluding performer, Dr. Vinod Hasal from South Africa, represented a generation of Kathak dancers, a family heritage which he has taken across the globe, and so, almost immediately after he began his performance, the audience was assured of witnessing an enriching spectacle. As the devotee, he began with the Guru Vandana, “Guru Brahma, guru Vishnu....” and then depicted the magnificence of Lord Shiva in Anand Tandava. He presented pieces in a unique 13 matras setting in different jaatis. His father Guru Ganesh Hiralal Hasal and his brother Pt. Umesh Hasal accompanied him on the vocal and harmonium and the tabla respectively.

The programme was undoubtedly informative about the lives and achievements of these committed dancers in addition to being beneficial in raising awareness of the importance to sustain and develop Indian culture and popularize it in every corner of the globe.