What started as a humble event at Murugan Temple, Cheddanagar, Chembur years ago has now grown into a 13-day mega-affair featuring dancers from all over the world.

The Natyanjali festival, which began with the nagaswaram concert, was inaugurated by veterans of the field of dance, in which P. Subramaniam of the Shanmukhapriya Trust participated.

As part of NCPA’s dance season in Mumbai, the opening day of Natyanjali festival featured performances by senior dance gurus at “Nruttamalika”. This allowed the audience to witness a myriad of dance styles under one roof.

The first piece presented was ‘Ananda Natamidum’ in Kedaragowla. The group prepared for their next article, the topic “Aru Padai Veedu”.

‘Unnai naan kaanbadhenge’ has been well presented by dance gurus. Padmini Radhakrishnan’s pre-recorded performance paired well with Jayashree Nair’s nattuvangam, B. Anantharaman Ravi’s violin, KG Vishwanath’s mridangam, and Hari Subramaniam’s keyboard and ganjira.

The ‘Kumara Sambhavam’ scene with Nisha Gilbert as Siva, Suman Badami as Rathi defined the tenor of the dance recital.

Beginning with Pazhani, the stories relating to each abode of Lord Muruga have been pictorially visualized. Padmini as Siva in the Pazhani episode teamed up with Geeta Venkateshwar as Parvati, Vijayashree as Ganesha and Brinda as Murugan. In the Swamimalai chart, Suman Badami was the Murugan with Mallika as Siva and Tushar as Brahma.

In Tiruchendur, Tiruparankundram, Tiruttani and Pazhamudir Cholai, Padmini portrays the role of Murugan while Suhasini portrays Surapadman and Jayashree Rajagopalan – Devayani.

Jayashree and Aishwarya Harish (Jayashree’s disciple daughter) tried out the role of Valli and mother and daughter as Lord Muruga’s two wives in the last abode.

Bragha Bessel presented a slokam by Soundarya Lahiri by Adi Sankara.

Bragha Bessel

‘Yarukagilum bhayama’ brought out all the nuances of Abhisarika nayika and the 12th Ashtapadi was a study on emotional communication. In Purandaradasa’s ‘Aada Hodale Makkalu’, Bessel transformed into tying little Krishna complaining to his mother.

An array of solo and group performances from various genres from around the world were presented.

“It’s all about devotion. Natyanjali is a great leveler. Here we remain only devotees of the dancing god, ”said Darshana Jhaveri, a Manipuri veteran.

The events of the last day began with an invocation to Ganesha by Sujata Nair (Mohiniyattom), followed by Prasanna Nambiar (Kathakali) presenting Sati of Daksha Yagam. Kalamandalam Kshemavati’s Mohiniyattom on ‘Pradosha samaya’ added to the pious vibe.

The festival also featured Kathak by Manjari Deo and Daksha Mashruwala (Odissi).

Images of Siva

Malati Agneeswaran’s “Pithan Endralum” to Lata Raman’s and Jhelum Paranjape’s Odissi live vocals on Bhootnath, his tandav as Pralayankara brought out the images of Siva.

Uma Dogra presented Panchakshara stuti in Kathak elegantly. Sailaja Desai’s Kuchipudi was lively and graceful. “Edhai kandu nee” from Vijayalakshmi Suryanarayanan corresponded to the Marathi padam “Daksha Putri” (Aga kanye vichar kar) of Alka Lajmi questioning the compatibility between Uma and Siva.

Dancers Odissi, Swapnokalpa Dasgupta presented Jatadharaya while Anu Narayan addressed Nando Rajaro, Ankur Ballal chose a Marathi song to highlight Mahesha’s expressions and Lata Raman emphasized the importance of Murugan namam.

The festival also included performances by Lata Surendra featuring Kanaka Sabapathi, the embodiment of Durga by Shashikala Ravi; Sivakama Sundari by Madhuri Pratap, “Nagendra Haraya” by Girija Nair, Shankara Srigiri by Manjula Manoj and Ardhanareeshwaram by Gowri Sardesai.

Suman Badami’s portrayal of Siva in “Maanada Mazhuvada”, “Sivakami Nesan”, “Tillai Vaasan” and “Oru kaalai thooki aadum deivam”; Smriti Raj’s damaru in Kathak and Charanya’s “Anju mugam” were interesting performances. Vijayashree Pillai’s Kuchipudi also had a brief tambalam dance.

Jhelum Paranjpe and Lata Surendra’s choice of black costume paired well with the backdrop of the scene.


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