By Chitra Mahesh
The Director’s Note in a beautifully produced brochure says:
‘’Born in an age of battles, bloodshed, betrayals –when God was worshipped as a warrior, an avenger and an exterminator!’’
And here she was, a significant member of royalty who saw God as
‘’A dancer, flautist, lover and a healer.
She saw society without gender and caste bias, faith as freedom not slavery, and creativity as grace.’’
The note continues:
‘’In our age of extremism, terrorism, we need to see God as an artist, art as wisdom, imagination as survival.
Miradasi reinterprets poetry and music to reclaim human responsibilities.’’
The production presented at the gracious Rukmini Arangam, Kalashetra Foundation recently actually brought all these strands of thoughts together to be woven into a simple yet superbly eloquent ode to the woman who knew her mind and went after what she believed in.
In that context it has so much relevance and so much to offer even today! And if one were to draw parallels between different art forms and their exemplification of what is empowerment – one would like to point out how in sync this is with the popular medium of cinema too- the film Pink being a case in point- where attention is drawn to the important fact that a woman does know her mind. And if she says something, she probably means it. And she can follow her heart if she chooses! Isn’t that what Mira did so long ago? That essential strength and determination? It was there then and it is relevant even more now! Just as peace, compassion and love are the foundations of true Divinity.
Miradasi by Justus Repertory starts out as a tribute to MS Subbulakshmi and Rukmini Devi Arundale, but goes on to draw a larger picture to a discerning audience – that of a world where music and inspiring tales heal, soothe and bring diverse people together instead of divisions and strife!
At the base of it all was a simple, tender narration of the well-loved story of Mira, the Rajput princess whose life was ruled by her love and devotion to Lord Krishna. Krishna, the beloved of the gopis, of Radha of Rukmini and Sathyabama, of the Bhagwat Gita and the great charioteer.
The Krishna who captures her heart as a little girl and blossoms into an intense longing for the Paramatma. Every thought, every gesture was offered to Him and He in turn danced to the music of her life.
Written and narrated by Gowri Ramnarayan, Miradasi was at heart a gentle production aimed at bringing back the healing power of music. The simplicity of the presentation was the core of the charm and the story was interspersed with the most impeccably sung devotionals – sometimes plaintive, sometimes hauntingly evocative and sometimes playful and joyous. One could imagine the mother Yashoda, the soul mate Radha, the angry Gopis and the earnest devotee through all the songs composed by Dilipkumar Roy and Pandit Falguni Mitra and put together by Gowri – the stage was set in a semi circle with Gowri in the middle engaged in the narration and the singers around, who took turns to take the breath away with their beautiful voices- Savita Narsimhan, Nisha Rajagopal, Amrita Murli and Vignesh Ishwar. Says Gowri, ‘’the songs are those I was privileged to grow up with and sing as MS Subbulakshmi’s grandniece and vocal accompanist- I was equally fortunate to sing for Rukmini Devi’s Mira Of Mewar.
Hari Tum Haro was set to music by R Vaidyanathan, who had also taught in Kalashetra- and according to Gowri, students Rajamani and Anjali Mehr contributed some compositions, as did Prof Srinivasa Rao and MS Subbulakshmi. Folk singers from Rajasthan came to teach traditional wedding pieces- the Raidas songs (Jaoon Tore, Kamal Lochan) came from Rukmini Devi’s sister, Visalakshi and from Kalashetra’s Dr Padmasini.’’
Adding to the soulful renditions of the songs were some background scores that included violin by Easwar Ramakrishnan, flute by Vishnu Vijay- so apt and well blended- tabla by Sai Shravan.
There was not much to distract from the singers and the narrator – all the stage had were the platforms on which they sat and strands of fabric that caught the lights (designed by B Charles) as they changed according to the mood of the song and the portion of the story. Audio projection by Akhila Ramnarayan, brochure paintings by Gowry Gopalan and production by V Ramnarayan completed the team.