Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Natana Raaja-Part I

‘’Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education; dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and, need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen?’’ said the great philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

Dance is considered to be the hidden language of the soul. There is no life without dance.
Our beloved Raaja has composed many dance songs and these shine like rubies on his crown.

On this special day, I am starting this series on dance music of ILaiyaraaja. I would also be writing briefly about the various forms of dance and the features(a la the ‘Sculptor series’ where I discussed about the dance in Tamizh literature while describing the different songs from ‘ULiyin Osai’ about two years back).

The Hindu philosophy talks about the cosmic dance of Nataraja. I shall touch upon this in my forthcoming posts.But for a moment, let us imagine as to what would happen if everything in this world starts dancing?

The great tamizh poet AruNagirinadar-about whom I had written in this Blog while describing ‘tham tan a namthana’ )- imagines all the Gods and Goddesses dancing in front of him.

Legend has it that he was challenged by Sambanthaandaan in the Court of King Prapuda Devarajan at ThiruvaNaamalai. AruNagirinadar sang this Thiruppugazh that depicts the dance of Gods, Goddesses and the entire Universe.

It is also said that as he sang the fourth line(mayilum aadi nee aadi vara venum-you and your peacock should dance and come here), Lord Muruga appeared in the Court, in a dancing form with his peacock.

‘As Adisesha danced in the PaataLa loga. The Mount Meru danced on the Earth,
KaaLi danced and along with her danced Siva making her shiver,
BhoothagaNaas, the ghosts danced too,
Brahma perched on the Lotus flower danced with the melodious Saraswati,
The celestials and the Moon now joined the dancing party,
Muruga’s in-laws Lakshmi and Vishnu danced,
He who helped the PaaNdavaas defeat their enemies,
He who mesmerized the cows with his flute,
He who is lying on the milky ocean on a serpent,
He who measured the entire world with one his one foot,
He whose vehicle is the Garuda,
You are his favourite nephew(or son-in-law),
Please come and dance with your peacock here,
And make the King Praputa Devarajan’s heart dance with joy!’

அதல சேட னாராட அகில மேரு மீதாட
அபின காளி தானாட ...... அவளோடன்று

அதிர வீசி வாதாடும் விடையி லேறு வாராட
அருகு பூத வேதாளம் ...... அவையாட

மதுர வாணி தானாட மலரில் வேத னாராட
மருவு வானு ளோராட ...... மதியாட

வனச மாமி யாராட நெடிய மாம னாராட
மயிலு மாடி நீயாடி ...... வரவேணும்

கதைவி டாத தோள்வீமன் எதிர்கொள் வாளி யால்நீடு
கருத லார்கள் மாசேனை ...... பொடியாகக்

கதறு காலி போய்மீள விஜய னேறு தேர்மீது
கனக வேத கோடூதி ...... அலைமோதும்

உததி மீதி லேசாயும் உலக மூடு சீர்பாத
உவண மூர்தி மாமாயன் ...... மருகோனே

உதய தாம மார்பான ப்ரபுட தேவ மாராஜன்
உளமு மாட வாழ்தேவர் ...... பெருமாளே.

Look at the poetic beauty..And look how in the guise of praising Lord Muruga, he eulogises Lord Vishnu giving the gist of the Mahabharata and the Vaamana avatara in less than 4 lines.

That is AruNagirinaadar!

Now, let us briefly look at the different dance forms of India.

The treatise on classical dances of India is believed to be written by Bharta muni between the 2nd century BC and the 2nd century AD. More about this later in my forthcoming posts.

There are essentially seven major classical forms:

1.Bharatanatyam-a very classical form known for its aesthetic elements

2.Kuchipudi-originating from the village Kuchelapuram in AP

3.Kathakali-meaning ‘Story play’
4.Mohinyaattam-Dnce of the enchantress believed to be named after the Mohini avatar of Lord Vishnu

5.Manipuri-a graceful form that lays emphasis on devotion

6.Odissi- known for its soft touches

7.Kathak-Focusses on the footwork and movements

Each one has its own beauty and of course different sets of rules.

Bharatanatyam, a very popular dance form across the globe involves hand gestures, facial expressions, movement of feet and the body. In fact, almost all the organs are involved while dancing. Minute eye-movements, neck movements and the hand movements make it one of the most aesthetic experiences if performed well by the artiste concerned.

Bharatanatyam essentially has Nrittam-movements that add to the beauty, Nrityam-specific movements to convey a message and Natya- depicting a story using what is called as the Abhinaya.

We also have Aangika abhinaya- physical expressions, Vaachika abhinaya-verbal, Saatvika abhinaya- expressing inner feelings/emotions, Aaharya abhinaya- costumes/make-up.

We shall see about Bharatanatyam and the other forms in detail in the posts to follow.

Let us now focus on today’s special composition

The composition is very special for various reasons.

First of all, it talks (musically) about the major classical dance forms.
Secondly, it has only the percussion instruments and no melodic instruments.
Thirdly, it is a Ragamaalika –with 5 ragas including 3 Hindustani ragas. Within a few phrases, the flavour of each raga is brought out beautifully!
Fourthly, the ‘dance jatis’ are rendered by Raaja sir himself.

The composition is ‘Aavedanaa’ from the Telugu film Aalapana(1986).

It has a very unusual start with a shriek. This shriek alone means a lot as it gives the emotive touch to the entire composition. Can there be pleasure without pain?

Janaki starts the Pallavi in Madhukauns.This beautiful Raag is the pratimadhyama counterpart of Sudhdha Dhanyasi and its structure is
sa ga2 ma2 pa ni2 Sa/Sa ni2 pa ma2 ga2 sa.

As the Pallavi ends, we are in for another surprise.
A beautiful jati korvai in the voice of SPB welcomes us.

We see the Aangika, Saatvika, Vaachika abhinaya in full flow in unison with the Bhava Raga and Tala in classical Kamboji-sa ri2 ga3 ma1 pa dha2 Sa/Sa ni2 dha2 pa ma1 ga3 ri2 Sa ni3 pa dha2 sa.

It is Bharatanatyam.

The luminous jatis in the voice of Raaja shows us the vignettes of Kuchelapuram from where Kuchipudi was born.

It is an aural treat as one hears the jatis that are rendered with fluid ease.
Waves of sound..

SPB follows it up with a beautiful rendering of the line about Kuchipudi in Pantuvarali whose structure is sa ri1 ga3 ma2 pa dha1 ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha1 pa ma2 ga3 ri1 sa.

‘Dhinta Dhinta Dhinta’…
Pulsating pleasantness wedded to Laya substance..

We hear Raag Bahaar whose structure is ni3 Sa ma1 ma1 Pa ga2 ma1 ni2 Dha2 Ni2 Sa/Sa ni2 Pa ma1 Pa ga2 ma1 Ri2 sa.

Raag Bahaar is considered to be the Raag of Spring season.
Maestro used it here to depict the dignity and grace of Manipuri.
One also gets to see the delicate nuances of this special raga in the sangatis.
The Pakhawaj and the gentle sound of the ankle bells give it a unique charm.

The softly textured charaNam phrase follows in keeping with the softness of Odissi.
We hear the melodic strains of a Raag called Miyan ki Malhaar.

Its structure is Sa Ri2 Pa ma1 Pa ni2 Dha2 Ni2 Sa/ Ri2 Ni2 Sa Dha2 ni2 ma Pa ga2 ma1 Ri2 sa.

It is a Monsoon raga and the combination of ‘ni dha ni Sa’ denotes the gathering of clouds.

The usage of this Raag for Odissi shows the sensitivity of the composer.
The breathtaking swirls and swings give us a breezy feel.

It is exuberance now as the majestic KathakaLi is depicted. The dynamism of this dance form comes out in full glory through the Carnatic raga AtaaNa- Sa ri2 ma1 pa ni3 Sa/Sa ni3 dha2 pa ma1 pa ga3 ri2 sa.

The use of pancha vadhyam here adds to the beauty and the majesty.

It is then the vivacious Tabla replete with graceful overtones. It weaves warp and weft into zigzag motifs making one feel Kathak.

The composition showcases a wide variety in expression and technique..

A panoramic view of major classical dances..

Variegated hues of Music and dance..

‘Idhi raga manohara ramya vikaasam lalita layatmaka laasya visesham..’