Human life is a continuous sequence of emotions that arise in various contexts and circumstances. These emotions, or rasas, give life different hues. Natyashastra, also known as the fifth Veda, describes nine rasas, or navarasa, as the basis for all human emotions. Navarasa, conceived and choreographed by Khagendranath Barman and organized by his institution, Natanam Kalakshetra, was presented at the ICCR recently.
A rasa does not encompass just the emotion it represents, but also a myriad situations that lead to it. Thus to explore the nature of the rasa, Barman selected a number of situations and characters from the Bhagavad Gita, Ramcharitmanas, Geetgovindam, Natyashastra and the Upanishads. The students of the institution participated in group, solo or duet items and elaborated on the nine rasas — shringara, hasya, karuna, raudra, veera, bhayanaka, bibhatsa, adbhuta and shanta — convincingly.
The love and ecstasy of shringara was vividly expressed through a duet by Khagendranath and his daughter, Himika. Ambali Praharaj expressed hasya rasa through an enjoyable performance. For raudra rasa an elaborate episode was chosen, in which Shiva gets angry when Madan, with his panchashara, tries to distract him from his meditation. Khagendranath’s bold movements were praiseworthy. He displayed the flair required for raudra rasa — the subtle expressions showed in quick succession on his face. All his students tried to master the Kalakshetra style in an earnest manner. Neat positions and hand gestures and a sense of rhythm showed their training under able guidance.
Karuna rasa was performed by Keya Bhaduri Bhattacharya. Shanta, the concluding rasa — the entire group participated in this item — was not very impressive. Each of the rasas signified a particular colour. The idea to use sashes of different colours in this context was interesting. The recording quality could have been better. The lights for the show were designed by Kanishka Sen.
Nimisha Narayanan Modak presented her solo Bharatnatyam recital at Children’s Little Theatre on July 6. The disciple of Kalamandalam Venkitt and Preetha Venkitt had a pleasing stage presence. She performed the traditional Bharatnatyam items with confidence. The evening began with a keertanam based on the Raga Sreeranjini and adi talam, followed by an alarippu in mishra chapu taal. In the pure-dance jatiswaram, Nimisha’s concentration flagged. Her basic positions and expressions were praiseworthy in varnam, the most difficult Bharatnatyam item, but she failed to keep up her energy. The artist was accompanied by K.R. Menon (vocals), D. Kannan (mridangam), Sukhamoy Bhattacharyay (sitar), T.N. Champak (flute), Nataraja Radhakrishnan (violin) and, in nattuvangam, Kalamandalam Venkitt and Preetha Venkitt.