Tuesday 14 March 2017

Kathak Mahotsav’s re-look at old traditions and compositions - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

In a three day event based on traditional teacher to disciple lines, with their stylistic identities and signature compositions, this year’s Kathak Kendra Mahotsav featured solo recitals, duets and group presentations, in that order each day. With her winsome stage presence, Nandita Puri, a prime disciple of Roshan Kumari, presented the uncompromisingly erect-bodied Kathak, with straight hand stretches, unrelieved by   needless filigree-like minimal gestures of fingers or torso, in the severe style of her guru. Starting somewhat timidly with the “Shantakaram Bhujagashayanam” chant, the occasional missed chakkars and footwork in nritta, unable to articulate all the mnemonic syllables impeccably, revealed a lack of ‘riyaz’. But after that she warmed up somewhat to compositions like the Chakradhar Paran, the 9 syllabic Chhand, the idiosyncratic grouping of syllables in “Makadi ki jaal” (spider’s web) like travelling on a bumpy road, and the Kaliyamardan Kavit “Jamuna ki tat par.” “Aavat mori galiyan me Giridhari”, the abhinaya projection even with its simple word/gesture translation would have had more impact if the loud singer Vaibhav Mankar had been more in sur. The “moramukut manohar sohe” concluding in chakkars with two layers of the kurta unfurling like an inverted open parasol, made a fine visual picture.

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