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Milita Utsav and Rasa Ranjini Fest in Bangalore
- Vijay Shanker
Photos courtesy: Samarth J V

August 29, 2019

Debnrutyam Studio, institute of dance, music and arts, presented the three day festival of classical dances, from 16th to 18th August at Seva Sadan auditorium in Bangalore. The festival which includes Milita Utsav and Rasa Ranjini festival is organised annually by Odissi exponent Debasish Pattnaik on behalf of Debnrutyam Studio. Debasish is a fine Odissi exponent and holds the distinction of having performed in 42 countries, a rare achievement indeed.

The first day was the annual day celebration of Debnrutyam Studio, wherein children in varied age groups performed Odissi, Kathak and Bharatanatyam with lot of enthusiasm and sincerity. In 'Krishna-Sharanam,' children interpreted varied aspects and episodes of Lord Krishna, winning appreciation from the audience.

The second day commenced with Milita Utsav featuring an exquisite Odissi performance by Geeta Mahalik, Mohiniattam by Swapna Rajendra Kumar and disciples, Odissi duet by Leena Mohanty and Debasish Pattnaik, and Kathak by veteran exponent Mysore Nagaraj and his disciples. Geeta Mahalik interpreted Swati Tirunal's "Bhavayami Raghuramam" in the Odissi style, with the dramatic exposition of Seeta Swayamvaram, Ahalya Moksham, the golden deer Mareecha episode and finale of Rama's tussle with Ravana. With beautiful music, Geeta takes you on a journey of aesthetic and subtle movements blending well with expressional quality, encompassing the sattvika element of dance. Geeta also performed the ashtapadi "Sa virahe tava dhina" that depicts the affliction caused by Manmadha's arrows making the nayika unable to bear the pangs of separation.

Geeta Mahalik

Mysore Nagaraj

Debasish Pattnaik and Leena Mohanty

Swapna Rajendra Kumar

Odissi exponent Leena Mohanty captivated the audience with the powerful depiction of Lord Shiva as Neelakanta who consumed the poison and as the Lord who controlled Ganga by placing her on his hair locks. Leena's stylized movements, supplemented well with pleasing abhinaya. The duet of Leena and Debasish in the exposition of the Oriya composition "Shrimati Shripati" portrayed the joyous dance of Krishna and Radha in Vrindavan. With melodious music, the duo danced with joie-de-vivre winning the appreciation of the audience. Debasish moved with flawless ease and elegance. Mohiniattam by Swapna Rajendra Kumar and disciples was pleasing. She commenced with the traditional Ganapatiye and followed with an ashtapadi that revealed the pathos of separation. Swapna was the only Mohiniattam dancer of the festival and she performed with remarkable ease and poise.

It was truly a pleasure to witness the Kathak performance by veteran mentor Mysore Nagaraj and his disciples. He is among the foremost disciples of Kathak Guru Maya Rao and has established his own dance academy known as Articulate. He has trained several dancers who have become professionals too. Nagaraj briefly explained as to how Kathak emerged from the Kathakaar tradition, dance in the temples to courtyards and the royal patronage Kathak gained during the Mughal regime and how it has changed over the years to the present scenario of performances in the auditorium.

Nagaraj performed the "Nayika-bhed", as to how the heroine is caught in varied moments of love, like the Vipralabda, Vasakasajja and ultimately the Khandita who feels cheated as she sees telltale marks on the nayaka's body. The performance commenced with the composition "Avat Shyam lachat chali" and concluded with "Kahe ko mere ghar aaye". Nagaraj succeeded in portraying the typical body language with feminine grace, emotion and restlessness when one is involved in love. The disciples performed Darbari Tarana with rhythmic and precise movements. This number started and concluded with the typical "salaami" which is rarely seen these days, that was prevalent during the Mughal regime. A fine performance indeed.

Debasish Pattnaik and group

Lata Rajesh and group

The last day of the Rasa Ranjini festival commenced with elegant Odissi by Sangeeta Dash. Sangeeta and her disciples performed with the typical grace akin to the Odissi style, her expressions having the natural intensity with subtlety. Sangeeta is known and credited for her traditional and innovative interpretations of Oriya compositions. Arpita Banerjee and her disciples rendered a vivacious Kathak performance with powerful control of footwork and rhythmic precision.

Odissi by Debnrutyam ensemble featuring Jyotirmayi Pattnaik, Debasish and his disciples was well received. The Deshakya Pallavi exposed the typical and elegant movements of the Odissi style that was performed with uniformity and precision. The last performance of the festival was by Lata Rajesh and group of Nrityanjali from Thane. Lata Rajesh is an accomplished exponent and mentor and has several performances to her credit. Besides the Alarippu with an innovative touch of varied movements that was striking and well executed, the dancers performed Varnam revealing their command over nritta, nritya and natya.

Vijay Shanker is a Kuchipudi and Kathakali exponent, teacher, bilingual journalist, arts critic and actor.

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