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Sam Ved Society presented Bhavanjali
- Anupma Sharma
Photos courtesy: Sam Ved

February 25, 2019

Carrying forward the legacy of Pandit Durgalal of the Jaipur gharana, Kathak exponent Uma Dogra founded the Sam Ved Society in 1990. The Society pays homage to the master's undying spirit through two main festivals - Pt. Durgalal Festival and the Raindrops Festival of Indian Classical Dance. The festivals aims to bring new and fresh talent to the forefront helping them scale new horizons as artistes and to convey to its audiences, the dignity and beauty of classical dance and music. Maestros from the field of performing arts have graced its stage in Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur, Aurangabad, Bhopal, Kolkata and Pune. The 29th Pandit Durgalal Festival was a Bhavanjali held this year on 8 and 9 Feb 2019.

Geeta Chandran

The festival featured Geeta Chandran, Akhilesh Gundecha, Ashwin Srinivasan and Manas Kumar. The evening opened with Chokkanadar kauthuvam by Geeta Chandran clad in a beautiful costume. A celebrated artiste and star performer, she enthralled the audience with her gait and expressions of Shiva as Dakshinamurti. Her hastakas had an element of strength and the innocence of a child gleamed on her face. She then rendered the Govind vandana in the haveli parampara eliciting the 3 forms Vishnu, Jishnu, Trishnu. The act celebrates the darshan of the lord as witnessed by Arjuna, the magnanimity almost sending him into frenzy. The depiction of the Kalindi River inhabited by snakes was a treat to the eyes. She guided the audience through the Surdas bhajan Sunee suta ek katha kahoon pyari, a piece she performed while being seated on stage. She transformed the ambience to one of bhakti as she offered her sewa to the lord in the words mane chakar rakho ji.

Akhilesh Gundecha and group

The evening resonated to the exuberant pakhawaj recital by Pt. Akhilesh Gundecha who was accompanied by his senior disciples Dnyaneshwar Deshmukh and Anuja Borude. He has learned pakhawaj from Pandit Shrikant Mishra and Raja Chhatrapati Singh Judev from Bijna fort. It was a pleasant surprise for the rasikas to learn that late Pt. Durgalal had played the pakhawaj with impeccable precision. Akhilesh Gundecha began the recital in Lakshmi taal 18 matras with soulful notes by Ustad Farooque Latif Khan on the sarangi. This was followed by an amazing Jyotirling paran reciting the 12 names. They went on to present few excerpts from Maharaj Udhav Singh's collection of 1400 dahej paran. There was complete synchrony in the compositions played by the three. Anuja led the act together with Dnyaneshwar to present the farmaishi Chakradar paran, Gopucha paran, Pipilika, Kamalee and many pieces in the ghe na naga genre. The air reverberated with the pakhawaj sounds that evening.

Violin and flute jugalbandi

The festival presented a soulful flute and violin jugalbandi on the second day. Flautist and vocalist Ashwin Srinivasan matched his flute to the notes of the violin by Manas Kumar. Ashwin who has been trained in the techniques of the bansuri by Venkatesh Godkhindi and Pundalik Shenoy of Bangalore, has also received training under the legendary violinist Dr. N Rajam in Mumbai, a pioneer of the 'Gayaki' (vocal) technique. Manas who has been trained by his father G. Chamua followed the tutelage of VKV parampara from Pt. Bidyut Misra and Dr. V. Balaji of Varanasi. The subtlety of the bansuri to the tune of the violin strings struck a meditative tone to the evening. The tabla sangat by Vinayak Netke was delightful, reverberating to the tune of the flute as though calling out to the notes on the violin.

Uma Dogra

Uma Dogra and group

A humble pledge became a moment and didn't seem like the end. As a tribute to her guru, Uma Dogra presented Panch Jati Shiv Stotra - chatushra, tisra, khanda, mishra and sankirna. All the Shiv shlokas were from different texts - brahmanandam param sukhdam, jata jateev shivam. nagendra haraye trilochanaye, vibhatsa hoon vibhor hoon, aradhyami mani suptam. In a sensuous playful depiction she presented the kasak masak uthan learnt from her mentor. Her senior disciples Indrayanee Mukherjee, Sarita Kalele, Diksha Rawat accompanied her, all of whom skillfully wove abstract notions of joy and beauty. Pure dance in teentaal vilambit included tripali, toda, amaad, tatkaar. The audience was left spellbound by the ashtapadi Sakhi hey keshi mathana mudaram from Geeta Govind of Jayadeva, composed by Vinayak Netke and sung by Manoj Desai who brought out its exquisite lyricism and explicit eroticism. The young and talented Satyaprakash Mishra set the tone of the ashtapadi by his rhythmic notes on the pakhawaj. The beautiful notes on sitar were by Alka Gujar. Inspired by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra as her guru for abhinaya, Uma Dogra mesmerized the audience. With a minimum use of hasta abhinaya, she created magic of love, separation, longing and despair by her soulful expressions and body language. Radha yearns for her beloved Krishna, wants to be in his arms close to his heart. The caressing, blossoming of love, her accordant submission scene set the stage abloom.

Anupma Sharma is a Research Scientist in Biology and has been trained in Kathak dance by late Pandit Brijraj Mishra.