Yakshagana Moha Menaka
- V.M. Aruna
e-mail: arunamahendarkar@gmail.com 
Photos: Prabhanjana

March 24, 2017

Over the years, one has watched many beautiful performances organized by the Drishti Art Foundation, both in-house and by established artists. Being an adept dancer herself, Anuradha Vikranth has organized many such events to increase the awareness towards classical dance and allied art forms. Moha Menaka, a Yakshagana play by Mantap Prabhakar Upadhya and ensemble on March 17, 2017 at the studio of Drishti Art Centre, Bangalore, was yet another brilliant addition to this garland of outstanding and memorable performances.
Yakshagana is one of the oldest traditional theatrical dance forms of Karnataka. Mantap Prabhakar’s contribution to this art form has been enormous. Although Prabhakar is a pioneer for Ekavyakti Yakshagana (solo) presentation, Moha Menaka was a group performance under the directions of A. P. Phatak and Mantap Prabhakar.

According to the Hindu theology, Moha (attachment) is one of the Arishadvargas (six evil desires). It is but natural for anyone to have Moha (attachment). For self-realization, it becomes vital to identify Moha and detach oneself from it before it destroys us. This idea of detached attachment was beautifully portrayed in the play through the character of Menaka, a beautiful damsel, who descends from heaven to earth with a sole purpose of stopping Sage Vishwamitra’s penance that was destroying the earth. The cast unravelled the beauty of the multifaceted Menaka as a graceful and witty woman, an enchantress, a loving mother, a detached woman with purpose and a bold woman who takes life in her stride. The part of Menaka played by Prabhakar with graceful stances, feminine gait and coy movements was mesmerizing. The energy amongst the dancers and musicians, impromptu interactions, and witty humour held the audience in awe till the end.
Concept, lyrics and dialogues were by Diwakara Hegde. The cast included Mantap Prabhakar as Menaka, Prashanthavardhana as Kaushika Raja / Muni, Manju Havyak as Manmatha, Narada and Kanva, Pramada Aditya as Vasantha and Prasanna Hegde as Marutha. A.P. Phatak as Bhagawata, Rajesh Acharya on mridangam and Gururaja Aithal on chande supported the recital. 

V.M. Aruna is a student of Bharatanatyam doing MFA at Sastra University.