It was around 6.15 in the evening when we reached the Chowdaiah Memorial Hall.Welcoming us were the posters of “Airtel Manthan Arts and Culture series” sponsored by Airtel and organised by an NGO, BIC(Bangalore International Centre).It was the next big thing after Bangalore Habba which was being sponsored by Airtel .They did’nt seem to disappoint us as it was the legendary danseuse,Padmavibhushan Sonal Mansingh who was performing at the inaugural function that evening.Her new dance piece was titled SABRAS-a tapestry of classical Odissi dance and Hindi film songs.
The mention of “Hindi film songs” itself was enough for a Bollywood buff like me to be there right on time for the show that evening. The crowd there was very pleasing.Usually at a dance recital,you can expect a crowd which is entirely different from the ones in a music concert or a rock show.For dance,you require a deep sense of understanding and so the crowd,as I would put it, is an “intellectual” one with most of the people being dancers , some critics and some true patrons of this art form.
The show started exactly at the stipulated time with some ritualistic speeches,which were,thank God,not very lengthy and not boring either :D.The sound of the conch marked the beginning of the performance.I must say,the sound was so divine and full of energy as it just rented the air.Then,enter Sonalji.She was looking stunning with her pink garb.Her grace was something unmatched!She started with a ‘Mangalacharan‘ where she did obeisance to the Gods,the Gurus and the Rasikasabha.
Then came the most awaited part of the program.Sonalji went on to explain the concept of her choreography herself.
The word Nav in Navras means ‘nine’ or ‘new’.They have been derived from the different instances of the great epic Ramayana. They symbolise the divinity,the attitude and ultimately the truth which is relevent even to this day.The idea here was to draw a parallel to the contemporary issues by quoting these instances.In order to capture the young audience and draw their attention towards these issues,Bollywood songs were used as a part of the music to convey the message.These songs were selected in such a way that they portrayed the same emotion as it was in that particular context of the epic.To sum it up,it was Odissi dance which remained the soul of the performance but attired in a contemporary manner.
The show began with Shringara rasa(romantic love).The song came as a surprise! It was the scene where Rama meets Sita in the royal garden of Mythila for the first time.His heart goes out to her and guess what’s the song he sings???!!!!….Jab se tere naina(Sawariya),…….[:))].Then came the Veera rasa(Herioc).This time it is Rama in the court of Janaka,King of Mythila.As he gets up and advances towards the bow,which when stringed by him would win him the hand of Sita,he challenges the other kings with the song…..Tere mehfil mein kismat aazma kar hum bhi dekhenge(Mughal-e-Azam)….
Then comes Karuna rasa(Compassion).Its a duel of words between Ahalya and Goutham rishi over the former mistaking Indra for her husband and Goutham rishi calling her a sinner.The song was Waqt ne kiya….Then came the Hasya rasa(mirth).When Shurpanakha starts persuading Rama to marry her,he looks at her face and laughs to himself in mirth remembering the song Ek chatur naar(padosan)…[:))]
Raudra rasa(anger) is depicted in the battlefield where Rama and Ravana come face to face.Rama shows his anger through the song maar diya jaayein ke chhod diya jaayein bol tere saath kya suluuk kiya jaayein…..adbhuta rasa is when the monkeys build a bridge across the ocean to wage a war against Ravana and Rama gives them a word of caution in the song E bhai..zara dekh ke chalo… In Bhaya rasa ,Rama is scared of committing a sin by not sending away Sita when a dhobi accuses her.And thats when he moans in pain Gumnaam hain koi(gumnaam) .
Bheebatsa rasa is shown when Sita regrets for having found a life partner in Rama when he mercilessly sends her away.And Sita shows her anguish in the song Ja re ja o harjaayi…
It was a marvellous performance by Sonalji.Her concept and choreography were breathtaking.Hats off to her for coming up with such a great idea!!The selection of songs was apt and the musicians too did a great job.We must appreciate the indepth knowledge of this great lady in our epics,Sanskrit texts and having the right bent of mind to apply them at the right place!!!I must say she also has a great comic timing!!![:)].It was a memorable evening and her performance will be remembered for a very long time to come!!