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THE PRINCESS WITH FIRE

The inner voice of this wounded society came out on that sultry evening through Draupadi — the strongest woman Indian literature has ever produced. This character created myths around herself and, at the same time, broke myths of the Second Sex. She was undoubtedly the first voice of women’s empowerment in Indian culture.

Odishi danseuse Sanchita Bhattacharya brought back the Draupadi Phenomenon in the Odisha festival held at Swabhumi — an appeal at a time when women need to raise their voice against all the physical and mental torture they are bearing everyday. Draupadi broke and recreated her own image. The script focused on this heroic princess who had profound understanding of warfare, art, culture, politics, economics as well as of state welfare. The fire-born girl carried the fire within till the end. The opening sequence of this drama, the metaphorical portrayal of fire and Draupadi’s birth, was attractive. Sanchita as Draupadi was graceful, and she was helped by the competent coordination of her troupe.

The whole performance was based on the traditional Odishi dance form. Only the part on warfare training was composed in Mayurbhanj Chhau. Although a little lengthy, aesthetically and technically, this portion was the most arresting. It might have seemed less relevant with regard to the main theme, but on a deeper note, this upbringing period strengthened the portrayal of Draupadi’s pangs, agony and anger when she got her beloved Arjuna but was distributed amongst his brothers right after her marriage. She did not even get the time to realize what marriage actually brings to a woman’s life. The craftsmanship of this sensitive subject was beautiful in this dance theatre.

Sanchita did a commendable job with her expressions and steps. Her flexibility, movements and energy level were praiseworthy. Arjuna in his passion and indifference should have been more adept. He was good, but more boldness and power were expected of Subikash Mukherjee if he had to stand against Draupadi’s grace. From Draupadi’s emergence to her wedding, to the final vastraharana and helpless surrender to Krishna, the audience had come a full circle, although the last phase was a bit hurried.

The captivating music was designed by Tarun Bhattacharya, but the background of Mayurbhanj Chhau was scored and played by Bickram Ghosh. The concept was supported by intelligent choreography and script (by Sanchita Bhattacharya). The co-dancers, Trishita, Anwesha, Mouparna, Mousumi, Agnideepa and Satyajeet, tried their best to give this effort a new dimension. The Draupadi Phenomenon painted an intellectual mind of the Draupadi who lives in the subconscious of the women in our society where womanhood, relationships and the psychological aspects of conjugal life are still an enigma.