Thyagaraja: An embroidery of emotions  
- Satish Suri
Photos: Shandilya Srivatsa

May 6, 2013

Soundarya Srivatsa, an accomplished dancer trained in the Pandanallur style under Guru Narmada, presented a solo performance (nritya roopaka) on the life of the composer Saint Thyagaraja. This was part of the celebration of Ananya Puraskar award ceremony held on April 21 at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bangalore. The intense devotion and bhakthi of Thyagaraja on Lord Rama and the many facets of his life were woven through selected musical compositions as the narrative unfolded.

Her traditional Pushpanjali was the composition “Giri raja sutha.” The story line unfolds with the birth of a son who is named Thyagaraja after the presiding deity of the temple, by the overjoyed parents. Soon the talent of the young boy is noticed as he yearns for music. The inspirational composition of Purandara Dasa, “Lambodhara lakumikara” enthralls him and soon he is put under the tutelage of Sonti Venkatramayya to pursue his interest in music. The depressed feeling at the loss of his father and his subsequent visit to Kancheepuram where he receives the Raama Smaran are enacted here. His contact with the sage Narada played out through the composition “Nada thanumanisham sankaram” gave Soundarya an opportunity to display her skill in nritta.

The next composition “Nidhi chaala sukhama Ramuni sannidhi seva sukhama” brings forth the forgiving nature of King Serfoji when his offer of wealth and riches is rejected by Thyagaraja. He is pained and anguished at the actions of his brother Jalpesha, who out of pique and jealousy decides to split the house and even goes to the extent of throwing away the idols of worship into the river Cauvery. “Ramaa nee daya raada” pleads Thyagaraja and soon the idols are found and restored. Thyagaraja embarks on a pilgrimage to Kancheepuram, Kovvur and Tirupathi. The story line is enacted through rhythmic syllables as he goes singing his several compositions “Nannu Vidichi Kadalakura,” “Nannu kanna thalli” “Jagadhananda karaka” to name a few. He is overjoyed as he is blessed with the divine vision of Lord Rama.

Soundarya’s performance was qualified by excellent technique, consummate ease and skill of conveying the story through movement and abhinaya and synchronizing with the rhythm of the music. Aniruddha Srivatsa as the young Thyagaraja played a cameo role. The soundscape sculptured by the mellifluous voice of Debur Srivatsa, Gurumurthy Vaidya on mridangam, HS Venugopal on flute, Dayakar on violin, Shankar Raman on veena and Prasanna on nattuvangam  added tone and colour to the presentation.

Soundarya concluded her performance with “Endaro mahaanubhavulu andariki vandanamulu.” As the curtain closed to signal the end of the program many a tear welled up in the eyes of the audience as they empathised with the emotional quotient of the program. Some editing and fine tuning will definitely embellish the production. The compere for the show Roopa Madusudhan conducted the proceedings with dignity and elegance. As a prelude to the performance, Ananya Puraskar was presented to the three musicians Debur Srivatsa, HS Venugopal and Gurumurthy Vaidya for their outstanding commitment and contribution to the dance fraternity.

Flautist HS Venugopal

Vocalist Debur Srivatsa

Mridangist Gurumurthy Vaidya

Satish Suri has been an ardent follower of dance and music for more than 40 years, starting with being on  the committee of the International Music and Arts Society founded by Vijaya Devi, sister of the Late Maharaja of Mysore, Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar and now presently is treasurer of World Dance Alliance Karnataka Chapter. He has presented several artistes, both dancers and musicians, over the last 40 years.