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Purandaradasa comes alive
- G. Ulaganathan
Photos: Shandilya Srivatsa

October 5, 2017

Abhivyakti Dance Centre, Bengaluru, presented their mega dance drama 'Purandara Pallavi' based on Pallavis of over 50 Devaranamas of saint Purandaradasa on September 17, 2017. According to the centre's director and choreographer, Raghunandan S, this dance drama was the result of nearly six months of research into the life and works of the saint. Staged at Seva Sadan auditorium, surprisingly the hall was almost full that too on a Sunday morning.

The occasion also marked the anniversary of the founding of Abhivyakti and 28 of its students performed on stage with Raghunandan himself leading the music ensemble. What is unique about Abhivyakti Dance Centre's anniversary is that every year Margam items are chosen and comprises a traditional repertoire which starts with a Pushpanjali and ends with a Thillana and a Mangalam. "We wanted to do something different this year and that is how we planned to stage a dance drama," says the director.

Purandara, a great devotee of Lord Krishna, has composed his songs with bhakti as the main element and that is what makes his compositions special. Purandara Pallavi traces the life history of Lord Krishna from him being a baalaka to young, energetic, youthful Krishna. Balakrishna is pampered and persuaded to sleep by Yashodha who then wakes up the naughty Krishna, gives him a bath and decorates him. The story then shifts to the gopikas who admire the beauty of the Navaneetha Chora, churn the buttermilk to make butter for the little one, the pranks of the mischievous Krishna. When they complain to Yashodha, the divine mother, they realise that her vathsalya is greater than her anger on him.

Then the scene shifts to Krishna going out to play with his friends and when the ball falls into the river, he confronts the mighty Kalinga. A distraught Yashodha goes in search of Krishna and faints on not finding him. Then comes youthful Krishna enjoying and dancing with the Gopikas. The navarasas in Krishna's life were also brilliantly brought out with imaginative choreography- Sringara when gopikas play with Krishna, Hasya when Krishna ties the dupattas of the gopis and they bang their heads with each other, Karunya when we see Yashodha's grief over her son, Raudra in a very subtle innocent way shown by the Gopis who get angry when Krishna breaks their pots and teases them, Veera when Krishna fights with Kalinga and does the Kalinga Mardhana, Bhayanaka when Yashodha scares Krishna saying "Bhoochibandide" and affectionately pampers him to sleep and Krishna says "Gummanakareyadire," Adhbutha when the brave Krishna shows valour and various instances like enjoying with gopis, and so on. Reflecting the mood and to suit the narrative, the stage background was imaginatively set with projection of the paintings of the surroundings where Krishna spends his childhood.

The most interesting scene was the Kalinga Mardhana Krishna where one can feel the bravery and magnanimity of Krishna. He, being a young boy, plays with the ferocious snake and bravely tames it. He joyfully dances on the hood of the Kalinga as the mighty snake accepts defeat. The gopabalas, stunned by Krishna's bravery, praise him by singing "Adidano Ranga" and "Hari Kunida." In the final scene, Gopika Lola Krishna, there is the elder, mature Krishna who is loved by all the gopikas of Vrindavan. There are elements of shringara and Raas Leela. The gopikas, who are eager to get a glimpse of Krishna, come running as they hear the melodious music of his flute. The scene ends with the joyous scene of Krishna dancing with the gopikas, throwing colours at each other, playing dandiya. An apt end to the presentation with Dassera round the corner.

While the direction and nattuvangam was by Raghunandan, vocal and music direction was by Bharati Venugopal. Vivek Krishna on flute set the right mood throughout. The one who stole the limelight among the cast was Naina Rajeev as child Krishna. Almost all the dancers put up a spirited show and danced with abundant energy. The long rehearsals was quite evident throughout.

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