Savitha Sastry in Chains: Love Stories of Shadows

February 28, 2015

It was a freeing experience; for once, I felt I didn’t have to focus on form, and for once, I wasn’t bored of the content! And after a ‘season’ full of nayikas pining away for their loved ones, or waiting to become one with the Lord, Savitha Sastry’s latest production Chains: Love Stories of Shadows, unfolded in Chennai on February 27th at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, offered the opportunity to witness a narrative that is real, relevant, and packed with the possibility of empathy.

In a story authored by her partner, Srikanth Sastry, the plot traverses a three-part journey of a woman, who ultimately finds much-needed comfort and companionship in ‘solitude’. The latter manifests only as a voice - Hans Kaushik’s - and travels through all her stages, a part and parcel of her many dilemmas, struggles, turmoils... finally offering her the refuge of a listener with whom you can be whoever you want to be. The story in a sense is everybody’s story!

It’s not merely the story that made the work accessible, if not anything else. The musical score - composed by the versatile Rajkumar Bharathi - sparkled with sensitivity and finesse. Taking on the microphone after the performance, Bharathi shared the process of creation. He said, “The challenge here was, the producer clearly told me that the music had to be based on ragas but they mustn’t sound like classical music.” In that, Bharathi succeeded. The score has the possibility of being a standalone album for its nuanced music.  Interesting and evocative...

What I also enjoyed was the subtlety with which Savitha used Bharatanatyam; using the form but never letting it take over the story; merely using it as a medium to articulate and express a story that is not based on mythology. Could the abhinaya have been a little better? Sure. Could the movements have been finer? Absolutely! But really, how does it matter? It was a good story that attempted to be told interestingly, and that’s that! Form can wait for a bit!