Friday, 28 March 2014

Rajika Puri’s Eleni of Sparta - Sunil Kothari

Eleni of Sparta is her first ‘non-Indian’ story. Evidently, Rajika has undertaken a great deal of research work, visiting Greece and studying the classics Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey and Bettany Hughes’ Helen of Troy. Eleni is commonly known as Helen of Troy. With her training in western music Rajika adapts songs, singing when performing and with powerful voice tells the story engaging attention of the audience. Taking cue from Sanskrit plays she impersonates the role of a Sutradhar (storyteller) and using ekaharya lasyanga principle of Natyashastra, in which a character enacts various roles in a solo performance in one costume, she successfully employs that style, combining acting, dancing and singing. She has named it as Sutradhari Natyam.
Eleni of Sparta unfolds in seven episodes. She has modelled each episode on a different genre of Odissi dance, with music set to ragas derived from the six Hindustani thaats (scales) that are equivalent to ancient Greek melodic modes, and as she states in her programme book, ‘and Greek folkloric rhythms similar to those of Odissi dance and music.’

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