A lofty serenade
The amazing Shobana delights with effortless ease.
The temple ritual dance was perfect
An artiste of calibre can mesmerise the audience with just about anything. The glamour tag notwithstanding, Shobana’s dancing abilities are amazing to say the least.
Her years of acting have endowed her with fluidity of expression, which is markedly visible in her abhinaya. Her sancharis are enchanting whether it be the fierce Kali or the pining naayika(beloved) or the benign Devi. Fleeting emotions coming in quick succession in accordance with the mood swings are handled with absolute aplomb.
With Shobana, ‘brevity is the soul of wit’ has been taken to its perfect conclusion. She chose a variation of Hindustani and Carnatic-based compositions for the Barkha Rithu (monsoon fest) hosted by Banyan Tree Events here at Ravindra Bharati.
Within the allotted slot of one hour, she was able to package four comprehensive dance pieces, each unique in itself except perhaps the culminating, conventional tillana of Lalgudi Jayaram.
A devout piece
The invocatory verses to Goddess Kali was a devout piece of vigorous dance, highly expressive and evocative of the ancient myth of the fierce aspect of the mother goddess.
The potent, single syllabic utterances (the beejakshara) considered as highly powerful and therefore secretive by tantrics, a part of the Kali invocation, were executed with accuracy through excellent hasta mudras as they flowed in alliterating series.
Her apparent competence in pervading the entire stage space even while depicting static symbols is laudable. There’s nothing more creditable to the artiste than keeping her audience alive to the show as long as it lasts and Shobana excels in this aspect. She chose to win the heart of the south Indian classical dance-oriented segment among the viewers with a Dikshitar kriti in Amrutavarshini Raga and a tillana while the Hindustani audience were regaled with Shubha Mudgal’s thumri on the monsoon in keeping with the mood and moment of the day’s theme.
The thumri, Saawariyae rithu aaye re sajaniya, depicted the longing of a sakhi (naayika) for her beloved (here, Krishna).
Shobana goes through the gamut of feelings — nostalgic, romantic, envious, joyous, sad, and so on with convincing expressiveness. The effortless ease with which she dances is what sets her apart from the rest of her ilk. There is originality (manodharma) in the way in which she bestows a move with certain finesse — like for instance , the way she drew water in her pot from a flowing river, or the way she depicts the birds in deep distress trying to coo, and so on. She was able to take the erotic to ecstatic, thereby lifting the theme to lofty heights.
The temple ritual dance was perfect from the word go. The deity preceded by the nadaswaram, the mridagam players, the pujaris and then the dedicated dancer who heralds the procession with ritualistic dance at the four-road junction from the temple. The lucidity with which the artiste undertook the three cycles in footwork was a delight to watch. The tillana was lighter in footwork while in the kriti in Amrutavarshini, Shobana should have taken up a druth kala adavu pattern for the mitram (a Dikshitar signature verse). Ironically, the brief swarakalpana that followed was in fast tempo. Kudos to the organisers and the artiste for keeping the performance a brief yet wonderfully wholesome treat.
(Photo: K. Ramesh Babu)
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