Follow us

Satyavan-Savithri come alive
- G.Ulaganathan
Photos courtesy: Nrityantar

May 8, 2017

The mythological story of Satyavan–Savitri never fails to fascinate us. The valiant fight put up by Savitri to save the life of her beloved has been told in several forms and is passed on from generation to generation. Yet, when an attempt was made to present it as a dance drama, that too in Odissi style, it created much buzz and great expectations. Nrityantar, the dance troupe led by its dynamic dancer Madhulita Mohapatra, presented it on stage at the impressive Jagriti amphitheatre on the outskirts of Bengaluru in the last week of April.



In this new choreography, Madhulita took on the character of Savitri, while her chief disciple Paridhi Joshi donned both the roles of Satyavan and Yama. Reaffirming Savitri as a strong and powerful woman devoted to her husband, the gripping tale was brilliantly brought out in true Odissi style. It was part of the larger event 'Odissi Sandhya' where Nrityantar's dancers presented a series of Odissi items. The script for this particular performance was written by Oriya poet Kedar Mishra which was then composed to music by Odissi singer-composer Bijaya Kumar Jena. The song was finally set to rhythm by Guru Bijaya Kumar Barik.

Radha Vadana
The performance opened with Savitri's heart wrenching mourning scene which leads us to a flashback when she first sets her eyes on handsome Satyavan who is cutting wood in the forest. The brilliance of Madhulita was such that she was able to take the audience along with her during the arduous journey. She falls in love with Satyavan, grieves his loss, stands up to Yama and finally as a happy, overwhelmed spouse, celebrates her husband's return to life.

The choreography very effectively used tribhangi and chowka postures. The dance feature involved narrative interludes and dialogues, adding to the dramatic effect. The tall Paridhi Joshi proved to be an apt foil to her guru and co-dancer Madhulita. The Oriya script was interspersed with English narration. With both dancers displaying good understanding and interplay of emotion, the story came alive in front of our eyes and the jam-packed auditorium appreciated every bit of it.

During the evening, Nrityantar team also presented the piece 'Varsha … the showers of life', based on the excerpts from Valmiki's Ramayana (Book 4: Kishkinda Kanda; Chapter 27). Then Madhulita presented a duet with another student Sonali Mohanty based on the ashtapadi “Radha vadana” from Jayadeva's Geeta Govinda. Nrityantar Dance Ensemble concluded with a dance piece based on the popular Kannada devarnama, Hari smarane mado, written by poet saint Purandara Dasa. When the devotees cry for help, Lord Vishnu comes to their rescue. Use of Kannada language for artistic expressions in Odissi dance style, was an experiment which was refreshing.

Nrityantar Dance Ensemble comprised of six dancers -- Paridhi Joshi, Sonali Mohanty, Sahana Raghavendra Maiya, Vivekini Das, Swati Prasad and Madhulita Mohapatra.

G. Ulaganathan is a senior writer and journalist based in Bangalore.