Shradhanjali by Odissi Dancers Forum, Kolkata
- Nita Vidyarthi

September 6, 2013

Rajib Bhattacharya
‘Shradhanjali’ by the Odissi Dancers Forum, Kolkata, was initially dedicated to offer homage to the legendary Guru  Kelucharan Mohapatra and Sanjukta Panigrahi but also paid tribute to Guru Muralidhar Majhi who passed away on the Guru Purnima day last month.

Guru Muralidhar Majhi has to be credited to be the earliest guru to start teaching Odissi in the city. Born on 13th April 1945 in the village Sabulia of Ganjam district, Odisha, Muralidhar’s interest in dance as a child initiated him to the Gotipua system. Later he studied at the Lalita Kalapitha, Sangeet Mahavidyala in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack Kala Vikas Kendra and was trained by Guru Pankaj Charan Das and Devi Prasad Das. He came to Kolkata in 1974 and since then had been its oldest resident gurus of Odissi. A minute’s silence was observed in his honour.

The evening of Odissi dance festival at Gyan Manch, Kolkata, then began rightfully by Guru Muralidhar Majhi’s choreography of “Pancha Devi Vandana” by Sreeparna Ghosh, one of his senior students. The piece was in praise of Goddess Parvati, Durga, Kali, Lakshmi and Saraswati. This was followed by Guru Vandana and Jatatobi by Pratibha (Bardhaman) supervised by Piyali Ghosh. Giridhari Nayak and his students presented Dhara Sriradha portraying “Radha Biraha,” one of his priced items. Krishna Tandava composed by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra was choreographed for her group by Debamitra Sengupta.

Under the choreographic supervision of the dedicated dancer Rajib Bhattacharya, who spearheads the institution Srijan Chhanda, a pure dance item ‘Sthapatya Angabhilash’ was presented by the members and students of the institution. Rajib, a very competent dancer is an efficient teacher too and the piece adorned with the sculpturesque stances, as the name suggests, was choreographed with lasya and tandava elements in adi tala, the melody being in raga Yaman. This piece, a part of his production ‘Tridhara’ was presented by well trained dancers like Subikash Mukerjee, Shibnarayan Banerjee, Argha Chatterjee, Mrittika Bhattacharya, Pompi Sarkar and Sayomita Dasgupta. Keeping in mind the monsoon, “Barshavishar” in raga Desh and Ektaali was inspired by Rajib’s guru Kelucharan Mohapatra’s love for nature. His concluding item ‘Nirvana’ was a piece from poet Brahmanada’s Bhajanmala and was on the Mother Goddess, Adishakti or Goddess Durga.

Rina Jana, another well known dancer presented an abhinaya “Ajamu” while her students performed ‘Mokshya.’ Ganesh Stuti and Megh Pallavi was presented by Maya Bhattacharya and her group while Krishnendu Roy, another well-trained dancer rendered Ramashtakam and Shakti. Kalakshetram presented Jatobi choreographed by Susmita Bhattacharya followed by dances set to Tagore’s song.

Dr. Nita Vidyarthi is a critic of performing arts, specialising in dance, dance theatre and expressions and is a regular contributor to The Hindu, and the Statesman Kolkata in dance, vocal music and theatre. She is trained in Kathak, Bharatanatyam and Manipuri as well as vocal, semi-classical music and Rabindra Sangeet. A Science communicator, Ph.D. in Polymer Science, Commonwealth Scholar and a retired Professor of Chemistry, Nita devotes most of her time to dance and theatre writing.