Dharani Kalotsav 2006  
- Harish Pal, Kochi 

November 19, 2006  

The five-day DHARANI KALOTSAV in Kochi stood out for its enthralling music concerts, dance recitals and interactive and enlightening lecture demonstrations. 

The festival, which was inaugurated by M T Vasudevan Nair, opened with a Manipuri dance performance by Rajkumar Singhajit Singh and his team. The highlight of the recital was its sheer variety. 'Vasanth Raas' showed Krishna, played by Charu Sija Mathur, and a gopi in a festive mood as they celebrated Holi, the festival of colours. The dancers portrayed the true style of the dance with their graceful movements. 
Rajkumar was equally winning during the performance of the other pieces. His presentation of 'Kiratha' had a lot of theatrical elements. Rather than adhering to the rhythm of the music, his body language, expression and skilful use of swords and cymbals turned it into a visual feast. 'Kaliyamardan' brought forth the fury of the serpent and the mirth of little Krishna as he danced in abandon on the serpent's head. 

'Pung' or the drum dance was characterized by vigorous footwork and rapid and diagonal swirls that awed the audience. 

S Shashank, who was performing for the second consecutive year at Dharani, mesmerised listeners with his innovative music on the flute. His informal style of presentation, which involved audience interaction and letting them choose ragas and kritis, went down well with the crowd. 

The concert started with an Adathala varnam in Kaanada 'Nerammithi...' Akkarai Subhulakshmi proved to be a good accompanist by reproducing exact  replicas of the brigas and jarus of the flautist. 'Chararavathe' in Reethigoula was played at a lively pace. 

Alternate blowing technique, a distinguishing feature of the flute, found expression in the ragam and tanam in Poorvikalyani. When mishra chappu was used for the anulomam in the pallavi, for the pratilomam, the flautist used Adi tala. He played ragamalika swaras in Saveri and Kapi, amply supported by Paruppalli Falgun on the mridangam. 

The third day featured the young dancers from Bangalore - Rajendra and Nirupama Rajendra. Their Kathak dance was in tune with the sensibilities of a modern audience. They had a different approach to music, stage setting, costumes and ambience. In the pure rhythmic pieces 'Ananddhwani' and 'Tarang,' where Nirupama's dance stood out for vigour and technical perfection, Rajendra was all grace and poise. With broad body movements and subtle gestures of the head, he could bring out the elegance and sophistication of the dance form. 

 In the thematic pieces that followed, the duo gave expression to romance. In 'Sringara Rama' and 'Rusili Radha,' they depicted the romance in nature. 'Rusili Radha' showed a tiff between Radha and Krishna and the response of nature to this play, which culminated in a jugalbandhi by the couple. 

Kavalam Srikumar's performance showcased the rarely performed Rasikapriya, the last raga in the melekartha scale. He displayed tremendous range, touching the upper dhaivatham with ease, but his alaapana here, and in the earlier sung Bilahari were 'scale gliding' exercise to a large extent. 

He presented Kuttikunji Thankachi's 'paripahi pahi' in khanda chapu. In contrast, his Sankarabharanam alaapana displayed structured, orderly progression. 'Sankaracharyam,' chosen as the main kriti, was well supported by Ajith Kumar on the violin. 

The final day's performance by the Dharani ensemble, led by Shyamala Surendren, presented the story of the deity at Chittoor. Various episodes from the life of Krishna were presented in Bharatanatyam and Kathakali styles. 

Specially noteworthy was 13 girls presenting the colossal form of the serpent Kaliya. Krishna's vision to the gopis was adapted from the 'Mullapoochoodal' purapadu in Kathakali. 

Unlike the previous years, the festival did not feature Bharatanatyam and Hindustani music. Yet it succeeded in presenting some of the best talents in the country.