|Come the first
Saturday of every February and all roads lead to Hessarghatta. And this
Saturday was no different with nearly 1000 four wheelers and hundreds of
two wheelers moving bumper to bumper towards the small village on the outskirts
of Bangalore. This sleepy, dusty village keeps awake one whole night and
the sounds of various musical instruments and ghungroos can be heard for
miles around. Vasantahabba, the dusk-to-dawn music and dance spectacle
at the Nrityagram, the dance village founded by Protima Gauri Bedi has
come a long way in the last 13 years.
as an evening of Indian classical music and dance in which the leading
lights of Carnatic and Hindustani music and well known classical dancers
representing various styles of Indian classical dances showcasing their
talents, has now moved with the times. Now one can see a blend of classical
and modern, performed by the well known and the not too well known artistes.
view of crowd at 4.50pm in the amphi-theatre
too which started as a trickle has now swelled to around 40,000 and they
travel from all over India to witness the varied cultural fare and also
as a tribute to Protima who died in a landslide in the Himalayas in 1998.
this year also saw the entry of corporate sponsors, Spice and Bru, who
chipped in to keep the festival going. The amphitheatre where the performances
are held gets filled up by evening and the organisers did well to put up
huge screens outside the venue where a few thousand people could enjoy
the performances. Still there was this constant tussle between those trying
to squeeze their way in and the volunteers and policemen trying to stop
them. This goes on the whole night. Fortunately the efficient and courteous
crowd management by the student volunteers from the Mahaveer Jain College,
V V Puram (they have been doing it for the last four or five years) helped
to prevent any major law and order problem. In the earlier years, when
the men in khaki used to regulate crowds, there used to be a lot of bad
mouthing and disturbances leading to unpleasant incidents.
keeping with the curious mixture of various genre of music and dance -from
Carnatic vocal, Hindustani instrumental to world music and Bharatanatyam,
Odissi to modern dance and Bhangra presented by various artistes inside,
the fare outside in the stalls were also varied--there were stalls selling
anything from Pulavs to Pizzas and Popcorn to Pepsi.
|Though a vast
majority still come to enjoy the music and dance, there is a sizable crowd
for whom it is a weekend picnic with all the goodies to enjoy. It is this
section, which at times gets boisterous as it happened when the internationally
famous contemporary dancer Astad Deboo took the stage. Trained in Martha
Graham dance technique and blending it with the Indian traditional dance
styles, Astad’s range is phenomenal and when he performed his deeply introspective
solo piece, there were a few catcalls and that was enough for him to loose
his cool. “I give you 5 minutes, those who cannot appreciate my dance can
leave. Or if you can dance better than me, come and show your talents on
stage”, he warned the audience. Before things could go out of control,
fortunately Arundhati Nag, the soft spoken compere intervened and set things
right. But Astad who has danced in various international fora should
know his audience and his angry reaction was definitely unwarranted.
by village children
Bharatanatyam by village children
were definitely the tiny tots (about 300 of them from villages nearby are
taught Bharatanatyam, Odissi and Kathak during weekends in Nrityagram)
who put up a brilliant show giving hope that the future of classical dances
is bright and they are the potential performers of tomorrow. According
to Ms. Lynn Fernandez of Nrityagram, this year the Nrityagram’s Outreach
programme has also brought in some students from Bangalore city who have
been learning for the last couple of years.
by Rudrakshya all male ensemble
Bhangra by Buta Singh and group
tall, slim Pryadarshini Govind in her Bharatanatyam recital was brilliant
with her sculpturesque poses and the lovely Thillana, the all male Odissi
dance troupe from Bhubaneswar, Rudrakshya, trained by guru Bichitrananda
Swain proved that Odissi could also be a vigorous dance performed by males.
During the Shiva Stuti and Dasavathar, his dancers used the space very
well and brought in the devotional fervour. Buta Singh and party from Punjab
performed the bhangra and it was as usual loud and fast paced.
Kadri Gopalnath and group
it was the turn of music and Bombay Jayashree (Carnatic vocal), Kadri Gopalnath
(saxophone) presented two purely classical concerts.
Sandeep Das, Shubendra Rao and Saskia
Rao and his Netherlands-born wife Saskia Rao were the surprise package.
Shubendra, a disciple of Pt. Ravi Shankar on Sitar and Saskia on her Cello
gave a new dimension to the Hindustani music. They certainly touch the
emotional chord of the audience. Antaragni, the world music band based
in Bangalore, presents a concoction of Indian classical, folk, Qawwali,
western folk, rock, jazz and Blues style of music. Their intense lyrics
and harmonious blend of music made it a unique experience.
The final concert
was by Indian Ocean, a Delhi-based band comprising four talented musicians
playing `earthy, fluent, free music’, blending Indian hymns, prayer like
mantras and acoustic guitar passages.
One more edition
of Vasantahabba came to an end on Sunday morning with the promise that
the show will go on. For young Meenakshi, a girl from the neighbouring
village, Vasantahabba is another occasion when she comes with the hope
of meeting her dear Gaurima (as Protima is still fondly remembered). She
couldn’t find her this time also but she was told that Gaurima was looking
at the show below from somewhere far above, perhaps from the brightly shining
moon. And that thought, for this little girl, was more satisfying than
G Ulaganathan is the news editor
of Deccan Herald, Bangalore.