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Home » Dance » Paying homage to the great guru Dr. Rukmini Devi Arundale

Paying homage to the great guru Dr. Rukmini Devi Arundale

Young Khagendranath Barman travelled all the way from Guwahati to the then Madras to learn Bharatanatyam under Dr.Rukmini Devi Arundale, whom he fondly calls Atai like all her disciples. He then settled down in Calcutta, with a secured job as the Professor of Bharatanatyam of the Kalakshetra bani in Rabindra Bharati University churning out batches and batches of students in the learnt style of his dance. His adulation for his mentor makes him celebrate her birthday, which falls after every four years. The year 2020, being a leap year the septuagenarian Guru celebrated her birthday on the 29th of February at Aban Mahal in Kolkata. Very significantly he has named his humble offering to his guru “Guru Sishya Parampara. Guru Khagendranath Barman a fitting disciple of Dr. Rukmini Devi Arundale presented a garland of his own dance composition to pay his homage to her, on her 116th birth anniversary.

Appeasing the elephant-headed God is a custom that must not be broken. The dancer meditated on Ganesh who is worshipped by sages like Vasishtha, Vaamadeva and others. They said that Ganesha the son of Mahadeva is worshipped by  Guruguha and the one who shines with the brilliance of crores of Cupids, in the beautifully designed Kalakshetra Vani. Ganesha’s tranquillity and his love for poems and dramas -food for his intellect- his fondness for eating Modaka, were narrated aesthetically. Praloy Das, a disciple of Himika Barman, had a good grip over the lyric composed in ragam Nattai and Adi talam.

The accompanying vocalist  Bhumika Barman Mukherjee, the younger daughter of Guru Khagendra Nath Barman sang into the hearts of the audience. Guru Vandana was the piece that naturally followed. Guru is supposedly the representative of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva -the creator,  the preserver and destroyer. Destroyer because he removes ignorance. The students offered their respects to the Gurus- Guru Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale and his disciple Guru Khagendra Nath Barman.

Set to Ragam Hindolam and Talam Adi Guru Vandana was  Performed by  Lalita Ghosh,  Susmita Singh,  Debasree Majilya,  Praloy Das, Ananya Dey, Sayantan Roy Chowdhury, Subhankar Dutta and Ankita Das.

Rukmini Devi Stuti was in praise of the adi guru of Kalakshetra style. Set to Ragamalika and Talamalika / Performed by Smt. Susmita Singh, Smt. Debasree Majilya and  Praloy Das, the piece was in her praise. The dancers venerated her invoking her blessings.

The Papnashan Shivam keertanam asking for a Darshan of Shiva, describing the cosmic dancer  Nataraja in  Ragam Vasanta and Talam Adi  Performed by Dr. Arkadev Bhattacharya and his disciples left expectations unfulfilled. In the present times with so much of competition amongst male performers mediocrity is bound to get drowned.

Rabindra Keertanam performed by senior dancers who were out of practice was rather out of tune with the rest of the performance. Set to Ragam  Bagesree and Talam Mishra chapu, the performers were Lalita Ghosh,  Susmita Singh and Debasree Majilya.

Natanam Kalakshetram

The choice of a Shlokam in Ragam Malika and adi talam dedicated to the Lord of Dance, with the dancer demonstrating Shiva as Nilkantha -the blue-throated one with the poison that he drank during the churning of the milk ocean-was the dancer’s homage to the cosmic dancer. He described Shiva -the generous and merciful one.  The piece concluded with  Ardhanariswara form -half man half woman -of the omnipotent lord.

Ramkrishna Chattopadhyay and his disciples Debasree Majilya, Shilpi Mitra, Archita Mahanta and Smita Saha were in good form, which is very important for aspiring performers.

A natural corollary to the shlokam on Shiva was the Keertanam -in ragam Gowlai and talam Khandahapu-in praise of Goddess Durga who with her charming beauty captured the heart of Lord Shankara and saved the world from  Mahishasura, Sumbha and Nisumbha and other evil asuras. The two pieces complimented each other. Anjana Banerjee Thakurata and her disciple  Susmita Singh made the piece come alive.

Lord Krishna was not far behind. What followed soon after was a Keertanam in praises Lord Krishna of Gokula, who lifted Govardhana mountain to save mankind.  Himika Barman and her disciples Proloy Das and Subhankar Dutta described the Keertanam’s lines neatly in their learnt form.

Himika Barman

The Krishna theme can never be complete without an Astapadi from Jaydeva’s Geet Govinda. Guru Khagendranath Barman regaled the audience with an Astapadi where Radha’s emissary tells her of Krishna dancing gleefully in the company of the gopis in Vrindavan, on the banks of the Yamuna. With sandal paste all over his body, clad suitably, with garlands adorning him, he is in love play with the Gopis. Krishna’s face resembling a lotus flower endeared the gopis. This particular piece set to ragam- Kamavardhini and talam Adi, was choreographed by Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale. Himika Barman joined Guru Khagendranath Barman to lend it beauty.

The grand finale of the evening was the group presentation of a Tillana in ragam Vasanta and talam Adi, showcasing the beauty of pure dance. The piece ended the recital in a joyful mood. Rhythmic movements, intricate footwork and sculpturesque poses were the hallmarks of the piece. The Tillana praised Natanam Kalakshetra established in Bengal to propagate Bharatnatyam.

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