S.Rajam’s (Music Appreciation notes)

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Srjan festival showcases diverse talents

The NALCO Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra (GKCM) awards were presented to veteran theatre artist Satchi Das and Odissi guru Lingaraj Behera on 9 September 2018, the final day of the 24th edition of the GKCM Award Festival, held at Rabindra Mandap in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The Yuva Pratibha Samman for young talent went to Odissi dancers Sonali Mohapatra and Subikash Mukherjee, Kathak dancer Swati Sinha, and Odissi musician, Rohan Dahale, an exponent of the mardala. The awards were given away by Hema Malini, actor and Member of Parliament, Ashok Charan Panda, Odisha Minister for Tourism and Culture, and Manoranjan Panigrahi, Principal Secretary, Department of Odia Language, Literature and Culture.
The evening also saw the release of the book Dancing into Eternity on the life of  Kelucharan Mohapatra, a tribute by Ratikant Mohapatra—director of the institution Srjan Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Odissi Nrityabasa—to his father and guru.   
The award ceremony was rounded off with the dance ballet, Maati, performed by the Srjan ensemble, based on a poem by Radha Mohan Gadanayak and choreographed in the neo-classical Odissi style by Ratikant Mohapatra. The story progressed in the likeness of a river, with innovative choreography bringing to life the interplay among the five elements.   
Over the five days of the festival, the audience was treated to classical music and dance performances in various genres.
Kuchipudi exponent and guru Vyjayanthi Kashi and her daughter Prateeksha, presented Antaranga Taranga, based on vatsalya rasa. The composition and choreography emphasised that vatsalya is not only limited to a mother’s love for her own child. It was vatsalya that made the mighty Narasimha kill Hiranyakasipu and embrace Bhakta Prahlada, beautifully expressed in the vocabulary of Kuchipudi. The finer nuances of the maternal love of Yasoda for Krishna were enacted sensitively by the mother-daughter duo. Vatsalya rasa was also illustrated by the dancers through the story of Seeta and her mother, Bhoomi. Dialogue was used extensively, in keeping with tradition.
Kathak stalwart Rajendra Gangani, son of Kundan Lal Gangani, displayed an astounding stage presence. Fittingly for a dance festival in Odisha, he began his performance by offering arti to Lord Jagannath. He also paid his obeisance to Lord Siva and followed it with a Durga stuti by Guru Gobind Singh. His expression of bhakti was remarkable. With his prowess in the technicalities of Kathak, he kept the audience spellbound.
Rajashree Praharaj’s solo Odissi presentation—choreographed by Ratikant Mohapatra—early in the festival, set the tone for the five-day extravaganza. She made her mark with a skilfully presented Hamsadhwani pallavi and the abhinaya piece Seeta Haran. Her guru who played the mardala and the other accompanists provided excellent support.
The husband-wife duo R. Kumaresh and Jayanthi Kumaresh performed a vibrant  violin-veena jugalbandi in the Carnatic tradition, with Jayachandra Rao and S. Krishnaswamy accompanying them on the mridangam and ghatam respectively. The percussionists showcased their prowess during the tani avartanam.
On day two, Parthasarathi Panigrahi, a vocalist of repute, included several ashtapadis in his recital. As the finale, he rendered a Durga bhajan in raga Gurjari. He was accompanied by Bibhu Prasad Tripathy (keyboard), Dushmant Parikh (tabla), Rabi Narayan Barik (manjira), Srinibas Satpathy (flute) and Agnimitra Behera (violin).
Agam, a Bangalore-based contemporary Carnatic and progressive metal band, provided an interesting counterpoint to the conventional artistic styles on display. Besides original compositions and a few ghazals, the band played Swati Tirunal’s Tillana in Dhanasree, Onwards and Upwards, based on Muthuswami Dikshitar’s Subrahmanyena rakshitoham in Suddha Dhanyasi and Rangapuravihara.
Solo Carnatic violinist Ambi Subramaniam, son and disciple of renowned violinist L. Subramaniam, struck a good rapport with the audience from his first rendition. Coming after the award ceremony, his set included some of the choicest compositions of  Tyagaraja and rang the curtain down on a memorable festival.

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