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Aariya: The Quest for Krishna
- Satish Suri
Photos: Anup Vishwanath and Govind Vishwanath

April 20, 2019

The thematic Bharatanatyam presentation 'Aariya: The Quest for Krishna' by Aruna Bhargavi, Annapoorna Krishna Prasad and Gowri Priya Sethuraman sought to explore the perennial quest of realizing the consciousness of Krishna within oneself. The narrative traces the emotional conflict of two young maidens Madhura and Mohana and their yearning for Krishna. The two childhood friends get separated at a very young age but carry an anklet as their token of friendship. Madhura is diffident about expressing her love for Krishna as she feels a sense of rejection and a complex of inferiority. Years later, the friends meet again and Krishna is smitten by the beautiful Mohana who is now the princess of a neighboring city and unaware, she rejects his advances. Madhura soon learns that her greatest obstacle for her to obtain Krishna is now her best friend Mohana and realization dawns that Krishna is in every one of us.

The opening sequences before the main feature describing the childhood friendship of Madhura and Mohana with Krishna were presented by Shreeya, Greeshma Urs and Avni Kowdley, students of Gowri Priya Sethuraman. The rendition opened with a jatiswaram and elaborated using the signature Charukesi varnam of Lalgudi "Innum en manam ariyadavar pola irundidal nyamama yadava, Madhava" - Is it just for you to behave as if you do not know my mind, O Krishna? O beautiful Lord, won't you alleviate my grievances. The development of the storyline by the artists, the choreography and the movement profile captured the mood and sentient feelings with a sense of flair and brimmed with grace. The jathis were woven into the storyline and not executed as individual nritta pieces.

Aruna Bhargavi

Annapoorna Krishna Prasad

Gowri Priya Sethuraman

They innovatively introduced a Thillana into the varnam to provide a distinctive flavor of a change of mood of the characters and later to assume the original sthayi bhava, the flow of expression blending seamlessly with the nritta. The evocative expression of Madhura chiding Krishna for not responding to her depth of feelings; the rejection by Mohana of Krishna's advances, each drawing inspiration from the other showcased aesthetic interaction among the artists. The total surrender in the charanam refrain, "Kuzhaloodum azhaga Kanna" was enriching and captured the very essence of the story of realisation of one's Krishna.

The Thillana, a composition of Balamurali Krishna set the mood of celebration of the finale with graceful expression and well-articulated footwork. Excellent music on a recorded track provided the tone and tenor to the artistic delineation by the artists which resonated with the audience.

Bangalore based Satish Suri is an avid dance rasika besides being a life member of the Music and Arts Society.