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Home » Dance » Samved Society’s 31st Raindrops Festival goes Digital

Samved Society’s 31st Raindrops Festival goes Digital

To mark the importance of that forgotten “someone”, with utmost reverence and tireless effort, Samved Society for Performing Arts, Mumbai, shines bright in the space of preserving Traditional Art & Culture of India.

Smt. Uma Dogra

“It’s been 31 years now since the demise of my Guru Pt. Durga Lal, an artiste par excellence. He left at the peak of his career, and far too early”, says Smt. Uma Dorga, one of the noted Kathak exponents.

30th January, 1990, Pt. Durga Lal passed away, and since then the journey of taking forward the legacy of her Guru began with an oath which resulted in the making of two Indian Classical dance festivals, namely Raindrops Festival & Pt. Durgalal Festival by Samved Society for Performing Arts lead by Smt. Uma Dogra.

Today, these two festivals have reached the highest zenith of appreciation and accolades by not only National but International audiences.

The year 2019, when Raindrops Festival  (which marks the romanticism of the Mumbai monsoons) was last witnessed the lights of the auditorium as since 2020 the deadly pandemic broke in. So, both the festivals were shifted to the new normal format of the online medium.

Art & Artists /Artists remain and continue to be unstoppable even in the most trying times.

This year’s Raindrops Festival was very special as the light of the flame was lit, to pay the most heartfelt homage to Uma ji’s mother Smt. Shakuntala devi and Uma ji’s Guru Maa Smt. Bala Lal devi, who passed away recently.

DAY -1

The sun of the 31st Raindrops festival, 2021, rose with Vinita Venugopal, in a mustard yellow costume. Vinita commenced her Kathak performance with a Krishna Varam – “lataki lataki chalat mohan ave”, set to the melodious raag khamaj and the oscillating rhythm of dadra taal, composed and sung by the very tuneful voice of Shailendra Bharati.

Vinita Venugopal

“Krishna” truly is a magician. His magic is divine which transforms a dancer beyond the understanding of gender. It was quite fascinating to see how Krishna himself was residing within the mustard yellow costume of Vinita, her body and in every little and subtle movement.

Vinita started her journey under the discipline of Bharatanatyam, one of the most popular Indian classical dance forms. Later, she found her interest in kathak and continued with kathak. I must say, her involvement with both the dance forms has done well to her lines, core, stage presence and overall persona as a performer. Her strong inclination towards theatre practice has added finesse to her acting skills (abhinaya).

After her Krishna-varnam, it was time for the taal paksha, which is the most vibrant and much-awaited part by the audience and the dancer herself.

Vinita had ‘Pancham Sawari’ in her offering, a 15 beat time cycle. Following the traditional format, the ‘Pancham Sawari’ had all the technical elements, Thaat, Tukda, Toda, Paran, crisp footwork and chakkars.

It was a very good…, poised… and beautiful performance making the beginning of the festival serene.

Gopal churamani… Gopal churamani… Gopal churamani…

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And Krishna continued with his magic…..………. even on the next performer.

The next performer was Vaidehi Rele Lal, a Bharatanatyam dancer and the granddaughter of Padma Bhushan Guru Dr. Kanak Rele, a renowned Mohiniattam exponent and scholar,  and the daughter of Dr. Uma Rele, Bharatanatyam exponent and the Principal of Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya.

Vaidehi, beautifully decked, in her temple jewellery, traditional makeup and a beautiful blue saree costume, which later I discovered was interestingly stitched with a long fan, made her look gorgeous.

Vaidehi Rele Lal

The space in which she danced was jet black, contrasted very well with her entire get up.

Vaidehi presented one long piece “Nanadakumar Ashtakam” authored by Sri. Vallabhacharya, as her offering.

The music was beautifully designed and composed. The ashtakam was musically decorated with elements bringing in the Bharatanatyam discipline of dance.

The piece encompassed the multiple facets of Lord Krishna, the most enchanting incarnation (avatar) of Lord Vishnu.

From being the naughty butter stealer, the attractive and romantic lover, the soul churning flute player, the killer of the demons, the beautiful dancer who danced in the maharaas and finally who enlightened Arjuna with the ‘Bramha gnyaanah’ revealing himself as the supreme Godhead of the entire universe.

Vaidehi, with her strong command over her expressions (abhinaya) and beautiful movements, especially the hasta mudras, sketched out all the beautiful facets of the lord.

The piece was interwoven with jatis and was very well composed and very well sung by Dr. Pantula Rama, keeping intact the discipline of Bharatanatyam.

The choreography and the natuvangam was done by the most renowned Bharatanatyam Guru Shri Deepak Majumdar hence the choreography had grammar and creativity both.

Vaidehi with her gorgeous presence, her performing abilities and such artistic genes running in her body performed beautifully.

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NATAVAR & NATARAJ – The two dancing men gods, always rule the heart of all dancers.

After  Krishna – the natavar, it was time for Shiva – the Natraj.

Rudra Shankar Mishra, like his name, began his kathak performance with the energy of ‘Rudra’.

A paran followed by a Shiva kavitta and a beautiful composition in praise of lord shiva composed by Pt. Santosh Mishra, set the entire mood. Rudra’s vibrant movements and infectious energy were quite capturing. The live musician’s energy too added to his energy and made it quite a beginning.

Rudra Shankar Mishra

Following absolutely the traditional format, Rudra chose Teentaal, a 16 beat cycle for his pure dance segment.

Upaj, Thaat, Tukda, Toraa, Paran, Parmelu, Tihaayees, Tatkaar etc. every element of the pure dance format was present in his taal paksha.

He performed each and every bandish as he owns it in every possible way.

Crispy and crunchy footwork, the usage of space, his chakkars, command and confidence over dance was clearly stating that he was born in a lineage of Kathakaars. His father Pt. Mata Prasad Mishra and his uncle Pt. Ravi Shankar Mishra, the stalwarts of the Benaras Gharana, also happens to be his Gurus. It is quite clear that with utmost care and love Rudra has imbibed great knowledge from both of them.

Rudra concluded his performance with abhinaya set to taal dadra. The mood was of a nayika longing and waiting for the nayak in the advent of monsoon, every drop of the rain creating a romance in the space…”Barsan laage sawan bundiya”.

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DAY- 2

“Jay ganesh jay ganesh jay ganesh pyaare”…….

Kathak Dancer Karthika Unnikrishnan opened the 2nd day of the festival with an invocation to Lord Ganesh.

A postgraduate in Chemistry, initially trained in Mohinattam, Karthika chose to pursue Kathak.

A Ganesh idol, a clear space, with wooden finishing… for an instance gave out a feel of an auditorium where Karthika chose to record her performance for this digital dance festival.

Karthika Unnikrishnan

Before manifesting her dance through her body (ang), Karthika with her complete involvement and stronghold on her expressions (bhav) began to emote commendably. It was quite evident that she is an emotional dancer. Her facial expression and understanding of body language definitely need a special mention. She portrayed herself as a devotee at the beginning of the vandana and then came a moment when she transformed herself and took a pose of lord Ganesha with confidence and conviction. I found it a good sign in this very young kathak aspirant. Her Guru, Uma ji’s recitation of the very traditional Ganesh Paran in the Jaipur tradition spelt different energy in her dancing.

It almost seemed her dancing petals were blooming one by one, little by little gradually.

Karthika’s concluding piece was a Tarana set to Raag Megh and drut Teentaal.

Tarana is a pure dance piece in the repertoire of Kathak and is composed of meaningless syllables. The choreography set by Uma Dogra ji brought in beauty, romance and power to those meaningless syllables.

The fantastic rendition by Shailendra Bharti and Karthika’s sharp movements and footwork fused seamlessly, especially the last segment of jugalbandi.

Overall Karthika danced with a lot of emotions which was a treat for the eyes.

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In the presence of Nataraj and Natavar the next performer of the day-2 Arpana Rao commenced her Kathak performance with Nritta, pure dance. Arpana chose Durga taal, a 13 beat cycle. The energy in the name ‘Durga’, and the paran ang theka (the syllables of the taal) of the taal had energised the space and the dancer.

Arpana Rao

Aparna looked beautiful in her lehenga costume which was a combination of bright parrot green and bright pink.

The confidence and the involvement of Arpana in her performance which was a bouquet of Thaat, Aamad, Baat, Paran etc, did very well state that she has received good training in the Benaras style as well as Jaipur style of Kathak. The compositions were quite traditional and were composed very beautifully.

In all of the compositions (bols) that Arpana danced on, there was a tihaayee that caught my attention. The recitation (padhant) of Uma ji was beautiful and quite playful with the tempo (the laya). The choreography too was very interesting.  Aparna first performed through bhav (expressions) and then through her footwork.

Arpana looked promising and dedicated to her Art form & her Guru.

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Odissi Dancers Santosh Ram & Samir Kumar Panigrahi were the show stealer of the 2nd day of Raindrops Festival 2021.

Live orchestra, professional lighting, super energetic performance and brilliant choreography by Padma Vibhushan Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra on an intense subject of “Ardhanarishwara Stotra” authored by Adi Shankaracharya, was a wholesome divine experience.

Santosh Ram & Samir Kumar Panigrahi

Santosh & Samir, both are extremely promising and committed Odissi dancers of the Rudrakshya Foundation, which is directed by their Guru Sri Bichitrananda Swain.

The two young men appeared like two celestial beings. With great stage presence, passionate energy oozing out danced meticulously. Their solid foundation and stronghold on the dance form were clear, like crystal.

Their erected spine, breathtaking stamina, intense emotional involvement and absolutely complete surrender to the choreography was enthralling.

Each and every drop of their sweat was shining with pride of the hard word that these two lovely dancers have put in through years of practice.

Ardhanarishwara stotra describes the co-existence of the masculine and feminine energies in the complete form. The body consists of Shiva and his consort Parvati. The right side of the body is the man and the left side being the woman forms one of a kind of imagery. The Purusha (man) and Prakriti (woman) not only resides in the same form but also indicates knowledge & power intertwined. They are both equal and inseparable. The stotra has eight verses and each verse explains the beauty of Shiva and Parvati in their most divine form.

Under the esteemed dance direction of the Maestro’s son Guru Sri Ratikanta Mahapatra, both the dancers transformed themselves and became the characters. The most interesting and the strongest aspect of Indian classical dance form, which allows a dancer to transcend from the understanding of gender and become “the dancing body”, and that is what these two men did with effortless finesse through their performance.

Pt. Raghunath Panigrahi, the composer of the music with his great command over his expertise once again proved his brilliance and mastermind. The music was done with multiple ragas (melodic structure) and multiple taalas (time cycles). The entire space had become truly a temple to this ancient temple art form invoking the unknown yet known energies.

And I conclude by naming the dancers as “The Divine Duo”.

Click HERE for review of Day-3

About Author – Ayan Banerjee is trained in Kathak, and has been practising it for over 15 years. He is a Graduate in Communication having interests in Apparel Designing and Creative Communication.

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