Rich variety at Drishti Festival
- G.Ulaganathan

Anuradha and disciples in ‘Shakti’

January 24, 2016

One of the much awaited events in the cultural calendar of Bengaluru is the annual Drishti dance festival and its 11th edition on January 16 at the Chowdiah Memorial Hall drew a houseful audience. The festival, impeccably organized by dancer Anuradha and her husband T.M Vikranth, celebrates Indian genres of dance forms. Since it has become one of the important festivals, premier institutions like the Canara Bank have been sponsoring the event along with a host of other business houses and retail outlets.
This year Anuradha and her students came up with an innovative Bharatanatyam dance feature `Shakthi’ in which the choreography revolved around the navarasa.  All the various emotions of goddess Durga was depicted with the help of different stories drawn from mythology.  Written by Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh and set to music by D.S. Srivatsa and G. Gurumurthy, the dancers performed in unison and with excellent bhavas. With Anuradha donning the main role, her students Tincy M, Shubha,  Aishwarya T, Ramya Bhat, Padmavati,  Kruti, Kajol, Nandana and Apeksha came up with nice movements on the stage and provided an adequate foil to their guru Anuradha. Hopefully they would perform with live orchestra in the near future as dancing to recorded music takes away a little sheen from the performance. 

Next came Samagama, a performance by four male dancers, two representing Bharatanatyam and two Kuchipudi style.  While the talented Bangalore based Praveen Kumar and Shijith Nambiar from Chennai presented Bharatanatyam, another Bangalore based dancer Sanjay Shantaram and Vijay Shekhar from Hyderabad presented Kuchipudi. When a Bharatanatyam dancer and a Kuchipudi dancer are performing a duet, it is odd to find the Kuchipudi dancer singing the padams while the Bharatanatyam dancer concentrates only on his bhavas and mudras. Either both should offer lip sync or the Kuchipudi dancer must stop singing. Better coordination is needed.

Samagama: Sanjay Shantaram, Vijay Shekhar, Praveen Kumar and Shijith Nambiar

Duryodhana Vadham
The show-stopper, of course, was the Kathakali team, Vellinezhi Nanu Nair Smaraka Kalakendram, from Kerala. They presented the episode Duryodhana Vadham from Mahabharata.
With live, vibrant musical accompaniments, the Kathakali dancers kept the audience spellbound. They effectively showed the scene in which Bhima kills Dussasana, rips him open and drinks his blood and later ties Draupadi’s hair with Dussasana's blood, thus fulfilling her vow. The episode ends with Lord Krishna calming down an angry and remorseful Bhima, blessing him. Though the dance drama ends with this, wonder why it is called Duryodhana Vadam as he is hardly shown on stage.
The three main dancers Kalamandalam Balakrishna Pillai, Kalamandalam Kutty Krishnan, Kalakendram Ajith displayed enormous energy, precision and emotion on stage and also off the stage when they walked into the surprised audience. The dancer who donned the role of Draupadi seemed a little weak and went through the motions mechanically.

Dr. Achuthan Kutty and Kalamandalam Ananda Narayanan’s vocal support and brilliant accompanists  Kalamandalam Vijaya Krishnan on chenda and  Kalamandalam Jayaprasad on maddalam,  Kalanilayam Devadas on chutti , not to forget costumes by Manpode Mohanan Manjuthara  elevated the Kathakali performance to a great height and both Lalitha Das, President BCKA who was instrumental in bringing this team all the way from Kerala and Anuradha Vikranth won widespread appreciation for this effort.

Felicitation and release of Drishti magazine

On this occasion, senior dance gurus Radha Sridhar (Bangalore) and Priyadarsini Govind (Chennai) were felicitated with Drishti Puraskar for their contribution to the field of dance. Also the latest edition of Drishti magazine was released on this occasion.
G. Ulaganathan is a senior writer and journalist based in Bangalore.