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Meera comes alive
-G. Ulaganathan

March 16, 2018

It was a refreshing and rare dance drama on the life of Meera. Presented by Chitra Visweswaran and her disciples in Bangalore in March first week under the auspices of the International Arts Foundation of eminent photographer Srivatsa Shandilya as part of the festival focusing on women performers, Meera was completely in Hindi and kept the audience spellbound.

Being used to seeing Chitra Visweswaran performing many brilliant solo numbers in traditional Bharatanatyam, this presentation ‘Meera-the Soul Divine’ came as a pleasant  surprise. Though mainly Bharatanatyam was the base, there were also traces of Kathak in the production. Music by Bombay Jayashri was the highlight and provided an admirable foil to the dancers’ efforts to bring the devotion and love of Meera towards Krishna alive on stage. Mainly focusing on Meera’s spiritual journey from her childhood as a princess, it traces the various stages in her life. Meera, in deep devotion to Lord Krishna, dreams of marrying him, and then surrenders totally to his divine charm. Later she follows a spiritual quest and ends up as one of the greatest saint poetesses of India.

Chitra appears in the opening scene and explains the greatness of Meera, as a traveller to the kingdom where she is the princess. Then her disciples take over and the joyous scenes of marriage, her dalliance with the Lord, are all beautifully presented.  Chitra appears in the end where she becomes the saint Meera singing the praise of Lord Krishna. Apart from her the dancers included Sukanya Ravinder, Priya Dandapani, Vidya Ravindran Anand, Uma Nambudripad Sathyanarayanan, Nandini Ganesan and Jai Quehaeni Reddy who was the pick of the lot. She had abundant grace and her dance as snake Kalinga was very attractive. Others in the cast included Sharmada Vishwanath and Sneha Chakrapani. The song “Pyaare Darshan” was tuned by R Visweswaran who lives through his music amongst us.

However, one felt that there was no need to have three or four dancers donning the role of Meera. One young dancer as child princess Meera and another as the matured Meera would have been sufficient. Chitra could have taken off as the adult Meera and she would have easily carried the entire story on her shoulders.

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