Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Natana Raaja- Part III

It is said that ‘Thiruvaachakam’ , the immortal work of the great Tamizh poet MaaNikka Vaachakar can melt even a stone.It is an outpouring of a honest devotee whose only objective was to reach the ultimate.

And he knew what that ‘ultimate’ was.

In one of his verses in the immortal work Thiruvaachakam, he says to the Lord,

‘ You are as sweet and pure as the Honey. You are the nectar. I am dishonest, deceitful, and full of lies and my love is not true . But I know if I cry, I can get you!’

யானே பொய் என்நெஞ்சும் பொய் என் அன்பும் பொய்
ஆனால் வினையேன் அழுதால் உன்னைப் பெறலாமே
தேனே அமுதே கரும்பின் தெளிவே தித்திக்கும்
மானே அருளாய் அடியேன் உனை வந்து உறுமாறே.

A totally different dimension to crying..

This is a verse that has a lot of inner meanings.

As humans, we are bound to make mistakes. Not one. .not two.. but many..

When we cry to the Lord, we pour out.

The tears come straight from the heart. The heart melts.. We feel light..

That is the moment when we feel the Divine.

Let it not be misconstrued that one can commit any number of sins and get away with it by finally crying to the Lord saying ‘I am a sinner. Save me!’

The ‘crying’ the poet is referring to is a very different one and not the usual crying of us mortals.

He realized that all things in this materialistic world do not have any value and only thing which is permanent is the Divine force.

He found poetry as a form of expression to express his inner feelings. One may agree or disagree with what he said. But the way it has been said melts us whether we are believers or atheists.

Just like poetry, dance is also a form of expression.

In my previous post, I tried to get into the reason for turning a blind eye towards classical arts.

There is one more reason too.. All the Indian Classical arts revolve around Bhakti or devotion and therefore, an atheist or an agnostic finds it difficult to identify himself/herself with a form associated with a thing which they feel is not in existence.

But I feel what is important is the way it is said than what is being said.
One’s personal belief should not obscure their appreciation for finer things in life.

But again this does not mean that anything can be said as long as it is said in an aesthetic way.

The long and short of it is-Let us appreciate arts without any prejudice.

In the previous posts, we saw some of the basic aspects of Bharatanatyam briefly.
Today, let us take up a dance form which is closely related to Bharatanatyam.

It is Kuchipudi.

Kuchipudi derives its name from Kuchelapuram, a village in Andhra Pradesh. Like Bharatanatyam,this dance form also involves hand gestures, subtle facial expressions and foot work. But where the two differ are in the foot movements and in the poses. Bharatanatyam has graceful, elegant movements while Kuchipudi is dazzling and has fast foot movements. There are sculptured poses in Bharatnatyam. There are more of rounded poses in Kuchipudi.

A normal Bharatanatyam performance comprises of a ‘Pushpanjali’-a prayer to the Divine/Nature, a ‘Allarippu’, that involves neck and hand movements-warming up the body essentially, a VarNam, that has all the three elements-the Nritta, Nritya and the Natya thus revealing not only the artiste’s skills but also the stamina, a Padam/Javali, that has the Abhinaya and finally the Tillana that has graceful movements as well as fast-paced hand and feet-movements.

A typical Kuchipudi performance too begins with an invocation and this is followed by a Jatiswaram. This will be followed by a Abhinaya piece, the theme of which is mostly be derived from the scriptures/mythology. In some special performances, the dance is executed on brass plate-at times with a pot on the head- and moving the plate with the feet to the tune of the accompanying music. Of course, the Tillana is the final piece and this will be marked by very quick movements of the feet.

Let us now have a look at today’s Natana song from Raaja which more or less follows the Kuchipudi.

It is again a very special composition based on a vivadi raga.

The composition ‘Om Jaya Mahadeva’ from the telugu movie ‘Kunti Putrudu’(1993).

It is based on Ragavardhini, the 32nd melakarta whose structure is sa ri3 ga3 ma1 pa dha1 ni2 Sa/Sa ni2 dha1 pa ma1 ga3 ri3 sa.

Ragavardhini resembles Charukesi, the only difference being the vivadi note ‘ri3’.In a similar vein, VakulabharaNam too has a close connection with Ragavardhini.

Charukesi has the ‘ri2’ while VakulabharaNam has the ‘ri1’..

The VakulabharaNam connection is very well ‘exploited’ by the Raga Raaja in this composition. There are certain phrases with just ‘sa ga ma dha ni’ giving the gentle flavour of Sallappam(a.k.a. Surya) which in turn is a janya of VakulabharaNam.

The song has a rather unusual start in the upper octave. The ‘gagaNa yagaNa ragaNa thagaNa’ are syllables that were in vogue centuries ago and even the famous ‘Kooththa nool’(discussed in detail in my ‘sculpture’ series earlier in this thread) makes a mention about this. In fact, Raaja had earlier used it in ‘Sangeeta jaati mullai’(Kaadhal oviyam) very powerfully and beautifully.

This unusual start itself gives this composition the requisite impetus. The puissant voice of Chitra that also has the apt modulation is an added attraction.

The composition is set in the 5-beat cycle khandam.

A simple beat of the mridangam follows leading us to the Pallavi..

The effervescent veena to depict the ‘Naada swaroopa’(embodiment of melody) is what is called as brilliance!

The first two lines are dynamic while the following two lines are zestful. The last line of the Pallavi is evocative and has the esoteric appeal. The Pallavi ends with a sangati that lasts for 7 cycles of khandam.

The first interlude starts with the energetic violins and the ebullient mridangam.We hear the harmony as another set of violins enter with abhinaya.

How can there be a Natana Raaja without the Laya Raaja? As we immerse ourselves in the beauty, we see the Laya Raaja dance with glee. He divides the beats as 5, 8, 7 and this is done twice making the total to 40 which is equal to 8 cycles of Khandam (8x5=40).

The Sitar plays ta ka ta ki ta /ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta /ta ki ta ta ka dhi mi.

In the first CharaNam, the line ‘Chandrasikha mauktaya sarveswaraaya..’ is rendered with finesse with a sangati that shows us the varieties of nuggets of the raga.

The next line and the violins that follow have succulent phrases.

The fifth line and the sixth traverse to the upper octave and are hauntingly beautiful while the last line resonates with depth. The sangati is again rendered with a flourish.

The violins play with great intensity in the second interlude with the percussion dancing in Khandam. The mellifluent Sitar thrums with excitement followed by the pulsating violins.

The second charaNam is exuberant and is full of energy.

The first line, the violins and the percussion move with imperious gait while the following lines are shaded by plaintiveness.

The line ‘Gajje kattina kaalu..’ moves with splendour. A silvery cascade of phrases follows. The last line in the higher octave is the acme of expressional delicacy.

The composition is capped by a sizzling finale in khandam with a fusillade of variations of ‘ta ka ta ki ta’. The sweeping flashes of violin laced with elegant cadences give the melodic and the rhythmic essence.

‘Nee Sangeeta Charana Saanidhyame Dikku Manaku..’


Suresh S said...

Nice writeup. Thanks for the song. Have not heard this song earlier. Will listen to it in detail and post my comments later.

Raj said...

Thanks Suresh..Yes.A Wonder composition indeed!

'Naatyakalaapam' is more popular than this one.But I always prefer to take up rare gems :)