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The 29th edition of the Raindrops Festival
- Anupma Harshal
Photos: Suresh Muraleedharan

July 28, 2019

Sam Ved Society for Performing Arts in association with Bhavans Cultural Centre presented the 29th edition of the Raindrops Festival on July 11 and 12, 2019 at Bhavans College Campus, Mumbai. In memory of her guru Pt. Durgalal, Kathak exponent/guru Uma Dogras Sam Ved pays homage to the masters undying spirit through the Raindrops Festival, a premiere event in Mumbais cultural calendar for the past 28 years.

Rohini Banerjee

Eesha Pinglay
This years edition showcased 8 soloists and 2 duet performances from India and abroad. The day opened to a packed audience despite the heavy incessant rains on a beautiful note by Eesha Pinglay to an abhanga by Sant Eknath describing the various attributes of Shiva and Vishnu, with graceful movements. Rohini Banerjee, disciple of Sharmila Biswas, presented Ramashtakam with music composition by Prafulla Kar, rhythm composition by Dhaneswar Swain. This invocatory dance described the achievements of Sri Rama from his childhood till the battle of Lanka. She then stirred the emotions of the rasikas through the portrayal of the monkey god and the gait of Ram walking on the stones laid in the sea. The Krishna Janma Katha written by Sri Jagannath Das was laced with abhinaya where she subtly transformed herself from one character to the other, retaining the basic flow of the narrative and reflecting a soulful relation with the supreme power.

Each of the artists raised the bar of the festival taking it to a higher note from the previous performance. The exploration of shringar bhava in the bond of Shiva and Parvati was expressed by the versatile Odissi exponent from Malayasia, Sandhya Manoj and Kuchipudi exponent Ratheesh Babu. The Ardhanareeshwara item tried to manifest that the masculine and the feminine are equally divided within oneself. The thoughtful inclusion of the Bringhi story was unfolded through her expressive eyes, as if the bee was making way in-between the two. The power of Shiva and his sensuous body language was embodied gracefully by the male dancer.

Ratheesh Babu & Sandhya Manoj

Ayan Banerjee

Sukanya Kumar

Prachi Saathi
In Navarasa Mohana, Prachi Saathi beautifully described the scene of young Krishna armed with an elephant tusk entering the arena to confront the evil king Kamsa. The people look at Krishna with nine different emotions thus exploring the navarasas. Choreographed by Rama Vaidyanathan in Ragamalika and talam adi, the dancers grace and poise maintained a mesmerizing charm on the audience. The finale of day one was the spirited Ayan Banerjee, disciple of Sandip Mallick, who set the stage afire to the vocals by Shrirang Tembe. The Dhamaar taal weaving two energies within one, was presented as an amalgam of Shakti, of Shiva and the eternal blissful spiritual body of Krishna. There was rhythm in his footwork, the jordaar todas were evocative and the dance poetic. He was accompanied by Vivek Mishra on tabla, Tushar Gharat on pakhawaj, Alka Gujar on sitar and Vanaraj Joshi on the sarangi.

Sukanya Kumar presented three pieces - Shiva Tandava Kauthvam followed by Anandamritavarshini by Dikshitar and a thillana in praise of gurus. All were choreographed by her. Her dancing breathed as one with the vocal notes, enthralling the audience. What followed next had the audience contemplate on how the rivers too have a story to tell. Sarita Misra, disciple of Guru Bichitrananda Swain, to choreography by Ratikant Mohapatra, danced as if the river was flowing in the rhythmic drop of a heel, her arms and palms. Portraying the plight of the river, her fluid gestures in the Odissi style and facial expressions conveyed her feelings.

Sakshi Pujari

Sangita Chatterjee

Sarita Misra

Joy Krishnan & Vineeta Srinandan

It rained praises in the auditorium for Sangita Chatterjee, disciple of Vaswati Mishra, as she soaked one and all in the creative Varsha penned by Sant Surdaas set in raag Meghmalhar, teentaal. Her portrayal of Jaya, woven in a Tarana in Bageshri raag set to jhap taal, reflected the intrinsic qualities of courage, grace, forgiveness and self defense. In all the items, the leaps and twirls were effortless and received thunderous applause. Sakshi Pujari, disciple of Gayatri Subramanyam, danced to the Swati Tirunal composition "Chaliye Kunjanmo" with subtle expressions and deep involvement. The loudest applause was well deserved by the pair of Vineeta Srinandan (Mohiniattam) and Joy Krishnan (Kerala Natanam), from the entry on the stage with a bow and arrow. An inspiring narrative of the entire Ramayana came alive with the act of Rama holding Sitas braids of hair as Sita returns to Earth's womb. Joy was truly a joy to watch for the deftness of his footwork and gestures. Vineeta on the other hand kept us entranced in the various stories that unfolded.

The rasanubhava was the crowning glory of the Raindrops Festival curated by Suhani Singh and Indrayanee Mukherjee of Sam Ved. The festival is truly a measure of Uma Dogras consideration towards nurturing young talent.

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

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