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Sakhi – in praise of the friend

सखे ! त्वम् मम मित्रम्

O Sakhi you are my friend!

Young dancers Pavitra Krishna Bhatt, Tanya Saxena and Era Dogra will be presenting “Sakhi – in praise of the friend”, a unique dance feature on 10th August, 2018 at Vasant Vihar, New Delhi, which is organised by Sangeet Shyamala in association with Dr. Usha Rk .

The Sakhi or friend is an intrinsic part of Indian Mythology and in turn Indian Dance.

In the Indian artistic tradition, Sakhi (female friend) is someone with whom one can share the innermost secrets of the self and the soul.  Sakhi is someone on whom one can rely and depend upon without any fear of ridicule or rejection. Sakhi is your confidante and Indian literature, poetry, music and dance reverberate with the concept (for it is as much a concept as a person) of the Sakhi in the figure of Radha in the Krishna Lila tradition. From ancient Tamil love poetry through Sanskrit drama to medieval Bhakti poetry, the concept of Sakhi has existed. The most referred and popular meanings of Sakhi are a friend, confidante and even accomplice of ‘naayika’.

The Sakhi, the nayika’s friend, is a fascinating prototype in Classical dance. For the heroine, the Sakhi is unquestioning, accessible and full of gumption. She patiently listens to the nayika’s woes of love, she takes her messages to the hero, she returns with his message or with him in person making her role imperative in the unison of the two persons in love.

Numerous presentations have regaled the role of the Sakhi, so what is the fresh approach we have explored?

New lyrics, new music compositions, new choreographies, exploring the innermost thoughts and feelings of the Sakhi is the uniqueness of our latest presentation “Sakhi – in praise of the friend”.

The Sakhi questions Krishna ‘ after all that I have done for you and Radha to unite, all you have done is treat me like a maid!’  to which Krishna says ‘ Manini, krta krtyoham syat mamavhivyakihi? O manini my gratitude to you, now how do I impress you or convince you?”. Extending from the works of the venerated Jayadeva and following the similarities in composition, Pavitra Krishna Bhat delineates the aspect of a hero towards the Sakhi.

The second dancer Tanya Saxena as the Sakhi herself takes on her heroine saying “chalu chalinka avadi sahavasamu” , enough! enough for now, this woman’s friendship! Who mercilessly calls me again and again without even taking a breath, go, go now and bring the lotus-eyed handsome hero to me. Expressing her anger and vexation on the manner in which her so-called friend has treated her.

While the earlier two segments are in the Bharata Natyam style the concluding segment is being presented in the Kathak style by Era Dogra. Identical sentiments for the Sakhi as those in Bharata Natyam are visible even in the popular classical form of North India.

We have been close friends from our childhood, sharing everything that each received with the other, my clothes and jewels always looked more beautiful when you adorned them and the sweets made at your house were always my favourite. When we grew up, there was nothing more important to me than you. I have given up all for you, my life is a total surrender to you my friend, त्वम् मम मित्रम् – you are my friend!”.

The Bharata Natyam compositions have been written and composed by Karthik Hebbar, Arjun Bharadwaj and Vinay Datta. The Kathak compositions have been written and composed by Abhimanyu Lal.

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