By Dr. Padmavathi Narasimhan
Rangapravesha of R. Rakshita was organised at Sri Nadabrahma Sangeetha Sabha, Mysuru, on the 28th of January. Senior art patron K.V. Murthy, musician and music critic Dr. Padmavathi Narasimhan, senior dance teacher K. Rama Murty Rao, Vasudeva Vitthal of Vijaya Vittala Educational Institutions and Dr. Vasundhara Doraswamy were the guests for the evening. Music ensemble included Deepti Srinath on vocal, Guru Varija Nalige on natuvanga, Shashi Shankar on mridanga and Rakesh on flute.
Rakshita was initiated into dance at the age of five. Pursuing Bharatanatyam under the able guidance of Guru Varija Nalige, she has actively taken part in many prestigious performances like Kannada TV show ‘Hejjegondu gejje’, ‘Navilugari, monthly program organized by BGS, Mysore, Dasara Yuva Mahotsava, Mysuru, and ‘Yuva Dasara.’
Keeping to the tradition, Raksita began her debut with Pushpanjali, in which she offered flowers to the Lord and obeisance to Guru Varija Nalige and the accompanists. In the next piece of Arunachala Kavi’s ‘Ramanatakam,’ Dasharata’s Yagna followed by the divine births of Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna were shown. The composition ‘Parabrahma Swarupan’ was a ragamalika with ragas Hindola, Ananda Bhairavi and Shanmukhapriya set to Ekatala. Varija’s affectionate watch over each movement of her disciple throughout the performance was notable.
Next was a shabdam wherein the story of Mookasura distracting Arjuna from his penance for the Pashupatastra and eventually Arjuna’s battle with Shiva who was in disguise of a pig was effectively depicted. ‘Paramapavana pashupateeshana hirimeyanu kondadipa bhakutage shankara dayasagara abhaya hastavaneeva’ was also a ragamalika set to Mishra chapu with shanmukhapriya again and suruti. The highlight of the performance was the pada varna, which is a centre main piece in a Bharatanatyam performance. With rhythmic elements like a padam, pada varnams are generally sung to accompany South Indian classical dance, including Bharatanatyam. Unlike the tana varnam which only has lyrics for the pallavi, anupallavi and charanam and swarams for the rest of the sections a pada varnam also has lyrics that correspond to the muktayi and chitta swaras of the varnam, so generally, pada varnams contain more lyrical content than a tana varnam. The swaras in this type of varnam are suitable for intricate footwork. The pada varnam chosen for the evening was the one composed by Lalgudi G. Jayaraman, wherein the pangs of separation suffered by the heroine are beautifully depicted in the varna.
Unable to bear the longing for her beloved Krishna, the heroine asks, ‘Wont you accept the garland that I have made for you today? You happily wore the one made and worn by Andal then. Why this stone-heartedness towards me now? I feel more forlorn listening to your flute melody. I am enveloped by your love.’ The varnam ‘Innum en manam’ effectively brings out Karuna and Shringara rasas in Charukeshi, giving a performer tons of scope for abhinaya. Drained out of energy, Rakshita skipped a couple of ettugade swaras.
She was more energetic and confident in the second half of her performance which contained a devaranama, a vachana and a tillana. Purandara Dasar’s ‘Karuniso Ranga’ brought out The Gajendra Moksha episode, The Prahlada episode and also The Narasimhavatara. ‘Akka Kelavva’ by Akkamahadevi had a folk touch both in the singing and in Rakshita’s performance. The Tillana in Sindhubhairavi by Dwaraki Krishna Murty on Krishna set to Adi vilamba tala was impressive with her foot works.
Rakshita is yet to achieve the energy, purity and precision of the Vasundhara style, which she hopefully will in the days to come.