Sunday, 23 October 2016

Akademi awardees prove mettle - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

With such cataclysmic changes in the entire Sangeet Natak Akademi hierarchy, one did not know what to expect of the annual awards festival, after the conferring of the awards at the Rashtrapati Bhavan by the President of India. But I guess certain things do not change, and so it was this year too. For what has become, over the years, an increasingly in-house event, attracting a small interested niche audience, the intimate spaces of the Meghdoot I and II and III theatres provide just the right venue.
To start on a favourable note, SNA’s fellowship awarded to Prof. C.V. Chandrasekhar was a laudable choice and a decision the Akademi can be proud of. And this 81 year old gave a performance that will not be easily forgotten. To choose a varnam like Papanasam Sivan’s Nattakuranji composition “Saami naan undan adimai enru ulagamellam ariyume” and present it without compromising on the araimandi stance or on the daunting double speed in the charanam part, is a very demanding proposition for even a young dancer – and in the case of an artist so senior, clich├ęd words of praise describing the performance seem inadequate. Starting with the famous hymn in praise of Nataraja, every aspect like the twinkling arudi-s executed to perfection, the excellent jati-s with ‘sarukkai’ movements done with such finish, and the image of the dancing Lord with the devotee’s thirst for a glimpse of the same and ecstasy at being able to feast his eyes on Him in the garbhagriha, were all brought out with Sudha Raghuraman providing deeply felt, tuneful vocal support, adding up to a never to be forgotten experience. The seasoned accompanists Jaya Chandrasekhar (nattuvangam), G. Raghuraman (flute) and M.V. Chandrasekhar (mridangam) added to the totality.


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