Radhika Ramanujan performs shringaram margam in Delhi

Radhika Ramanujan
 I recently missed the opportunity to watch Bharatnatyam artist Radhika Ramanujan perform in Delhi. Bengaluru’s Radhika is an established, well-known dancer and is a disciple of Kiran and Sandhya Kiran. In Delhi, she presented a traditional margam. I wanted very much to watch her perform but since I could not go, here are a few pictures and a synopsis that she sent me to give a glimpse of her performance to Delhi rasikas.

The margam was based around shringaram, the different hues and colours of love and its varied shades the thread running through the evening’s pieces.

Radhika began with a traditional mallari, designed and executed to signify the journey of the heart through the angles of destiny, vertices of squares and wanders into the unending circle of life, only to understand one’s own self within – to realise, submit and surrender, in silence, to the potent strong feminine energy, the Devi, who represents the core and the foundation of shringaram. The mallari was in raga Gambeera Nattai, khanda jathi, triputa talam.

Next was a varnam, a complex structured piece that alternates between complex rhythm structures and pure movement that together explore the emotional landscape of the love poetry. In this varnam, the nayika experiences a deep longing and a physical desire to unite with her Lord Shiva, the presiding deity of the Ponnambalam or the golden-hued abode. Manmatha’s arrows strike her incessantly, pushing her into a state of delirium. Engulfed by desire, hallucinating about being in the embrace of Shiva, she traverses the varied emotions and beseeches her sakhi to fetch him at once. As the varnam progresses, the nayika explains to her friend how secure she is in her relationship with the lord of the celestials, the one who kissed her and held her hand, promising never to abandon her. As she recounts this, her desire deepens and she finally urges her sakhi to stop thinking any further and to fetch her Lord immediately. ‘Mogamaginen Inda VeLayil’ was in raga Karaharapriya, adi talam, a composition of K.N. Dandayuthapani Pillai. The jathis of the varnam had been set by the well-known mridangangist Bhavani Shankar.

The next piece was ‘Parulanamaata Namma Voddu’. In this, shringaram moved from delirium to a more realistic and lighter hue. The nayika cajoles her Lord and asks him not to listen to the murmurs and words of other people. She beseeches him, convinces him that the love he sees in her is true and the happiness of their union lies deeply embedded in this trust. This was in raga Kaapi, roopaka talam, composed by Subbaraya Shastri.

‘Haalu Ukkito Ranga’, the penultimate presentation, was a dasa sahitya loaded with metaphorical suggestion of shringara. The nayika beseeches the dark Lord Krishna and asks him not to block her way as she walks towards her abode. Deeply and completely in love with Krishna, the poetry traverses the intimate settings of the nayika and him as her heart warms to his sweet nothings and his embrace, her mind races towards caution and the people who might barge into their intimacy.

The evening ended with a thillana, a lilting pattern of swaras strung together and set to a breezy, hearty tune. The thillana is a celebration of the happiness of the all-encompassing shringaram. This was a composition of violin maestro Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman in raga Bageshree, set to adi talam.

Pics: Vinay Tiwari
Pictures and synopsis courtesy Radhika Ramanujan