Amritanjali Festival 2017
- Sowmya Jayabharathwaj

May 12, 2017

Excellent performances, colourful display of different classical dance forms, outstanding thematic Bharatanatyam choreographies and soulful Carnatic vocal concert marked Amritanjali Festival of Classical Dance and Music this year. One got to see performances by reputed professional artistes as well as upcoming artistes. Amritanjali Festival is hosted and conducted by Dr. Shashikala Ravi every year in Pune.

The main festival was on 29th and 30th April. The first evening began with a Kuchipudi recital by Gururaju from Bengaluru. This student of Vyjayanthi Kashi has evolved into a mature dancer. He presented dynamic compositions like "Tandava nritya kari," Ramayana Shabdam, Sandhya Tandavam and "Neela megha shareera." The Tarangini in raga Mohana set to adi tala, a special number in Kuchipudi from the Krishna Leela Tarangini depicting life and events of Lord Krishna in which the dancer dances on the rim of a brass plate, was very well presented by Gururaju.


  Jayashree Rajagopalan & Aishwarya Harish

Upasana Academy

Aparna Gandhi & Priyasha Deochake

This was followed by a Mohiniattam recital byDivya Warrier, Harini Jagannathan, Pratibha Jagannathan and Sharanya Sanjay - students of Jayashree Nair of Upasana Academy of classical dances, Mumbai. Madhurabhakthi was the predominant mood. They began with an invocatory item seeking the blessings of Lord Ganesha, Devi Mookambika who is worshipped in the forms of Mahalaxmi, Maha Saraswati and Mahakali, the gurus and elders. They continued with a composition devoted to Rama where episodes like Ahalya moksham, Seeta swayamvaram and Sabari darshanam were beautifully depicted. The last piece brought out an imaginary altercation between Radha and Krishna.

Next was a presentation of Bharata Nrityam margam by Dr. Jayashree Rajagopalan and Aishwarya Harish from Mumbai. Jayashree is a foremost disciple of Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam who has researched and revived the 108 karanas of Natya Sastra, and evolved a distinctive style known as Bharata Nrityam. Having imbibed this beautiful style with all its nuances, Jayashree has established herself as one of the best spokeswomen of her guru's unique style. She and her daughter/disciple Aishwarya Harish did full justice to the karana movements.

The first day of the festival came to an end with a graceful Odissi recital by Rasika Gumaste and her troupe comprising of Shama Patni, Aparna Gandhi and Priyasha Deochake. They started with "Vakratunda mahakaya" performed by Aparna Gandhi and Priyasha Deochake, followed by "Radha Rani" capturing the love play between Radha and Krishna presented by Aparna Gandhi."Patha chaadi de", a pure abhinaya piece, in which Radha pleads to Krishna to move out of her way was gracefully presented by Rasika Gumaste. "Hariye gathi," a song on Lord Krishna, describing him as the small boy who entices everyone with his flute, was a composition of Balamurali Krishna, impressively presented by Rasika Gumaste and Shama Patni.

Soundarya Srivathsa

Shashikala Ravi

The next evening saw a display of some remarkable choreographies in Bharatanatyam. Dr. Soundarya Srivathsa from Bengaluru presented her latest production and choreography Maitreyi. She did full justice to a highly philosophical and abstract theme of Maitreyi, who was the daughter of Rishi Mitra and was the moksha patni of Yaagnavalkya. Maitreyi yearns for Brahma Jnaana which is revealed to her through a dialogue about immortality and understanding of the atman. Soundarya was accompanied by her husband D.S. Srivathsa on vocal and other artistes from Bengaluru D.V. Prasanna Kumar (nattuvangam, rhythm pads, morsing and khanjira), G. Gurumurthy (mridangam), R. Dayakar (violin) and N.R. Narasimha Murthy (flute).

D.S. Srivathsa

This was followed by another powerful performance by Dr. Shashikala Ravi who presented the great goddess Devi Parvati. Through this choreography she handled how and why Devi Parvati is considered as the most powerful goddess in Hindu mythology, taking one through her roles as the creator, protector and destroyer. Unsurpassed in beauty in the three worlds, endowed with great power, she resides eternally as a part of Lord Shiva as Ardhanari. The concept, choreography and production were by Shashikala Ravi.Music composition and vocal by N.N. Sivaprasad, mridangam, kanjira, ghatam and jathis by S. Shankaranarayanan, veena by Shyamala Sajnani, flute by Sanjay Sasidharan and violin by Narayan Parthasarathy.

The festival concluded with an outstanding vocal concert by D.S. Srivathsa, one of the most sought after vocalists in Bengaluru singing both for Bharatanatyam dancers and performing independently. He began with Swati Tirunal's "Gopalaka pahimam" in ragam Revagupti, misra chapu talam and then enthralled the audience with compositions like "Kanjadala" in ragam Kamalamanohari in adi tala; "Shambho Mahadeva" in ragam Pantuvarali and rupaka tala; abhang "Ughada nayana deva" in ragam Mishra Pantuvarali and eka tala and the combination of "Bhavayami Gopala balam" and "Maghe ubha mangeshi" in ragam Yaman, in adi and mishra chapu tala. He was accompanied by the same musicians mentioned above.

Sowmya Jayabharathwaj is a Carnatic vocalist & teacher in Pune. She trained in Bharatanatyam for 8 years under Guru Somashekar in Mysore.