About Contact Submit Article or Event

Taalapatra – Hymns from the Hills

A solo dance feature on Annamacharya Kritis by Dr. Ananda Shankar Jayant

Creeping off early from work, driving a cheeky two wheeler to wade through the by lanes of Hyderabad and rushing in madness through endless signals is what it took to reach Ravindra Bharathi on time on a busy Friday. Once in the auditorium did I realize this was all but worth for it was just one door that separated mundaneness from bliss! It is also here that I realized it does not necessarily need shutter bugs to attract crowds but a lone simple, joyful (Ananda!) artiste could pull the whole of Hyderabad’s art lovers. 
Bliss is what described Dr. Ananda Shankar Jayant’s production – Taalapatra premiered on 26th Nov,10 with the South Indian Cultural Association (SICA) presenting it and a Shriram Chit Funds supporting.

From the time Shri Venu Madhav hummed ‘Shuklam Bharadharam’ and the music ensemble pitched in, it was an hour and a half of a journey into the life of Annamacharya, his work, his devotion to Lord Venkateshwara and his candid images of life’s simple yet colourful happenings.

Dr. Ananda commenced with portraying Annamacharya in his virtuality – his incessant devotion to the Lord. This opening suite saw an amalgamation of sorts – a new raga, absolute visual justice to a deep sinking poetry, researched choreography and subtle yet strong display of Bhakti. She forayed into a territory of her own conversing with the Lord of the multiple vehicles he mounts on.

The following suite was characterized by rarity. The Pitamaha’s kritis describing the nine Narasimhamurthis of Ahobilam did not deal with the di-rigour show of anger on Narasimha but captured the feel of the murthis as in their existence with sculptursque poses and beautifully woven adavu patterns. “Ithade Parabramha” and “Muddugare choodamma” though chosen owing to their popularity were successfully kept uncomplicated and crisp avoiding unnecessary repetitive elaboration of the cliché stories.

We were treated to a melodious rendition of a ‘Sri Stotram’ by Venu Madhav whilst Dr. Ananda embellished herself for an elegant display of Alamellumanga. A befitting costume helped portray this character both as an agile girl and in intimate sringara. The first half of the suite saw her in quintessential style dancing, quirking, tweeting and dreaming of her Lord with her sakhis whilst the second half had Ananda effortlessly slip into a young lady reminiscing the time spent with the Lord and urging her sakhi to fetch him.

She concluded with a celebration of the Lord’s Bhramotsavam and Annamacharya placing his work at the feet of the Lord in what could be called a true personified effort – a vivid showcase of union of the Jeevatma with the Paramatma.

While it is known that Annamacharya’s kritis call for a deep routed philosophical understanding, as I watched this as a rasika it only takes a ‘Simple’ effort to take the onus of all the complexity to herself and present it as simple and understandable for an audience spanning 8 year olds running all over the place to senior citizens clutching to their walking sticks. There was no extravagance, no glitz and glamour or over the top faze including the stage décor (credit: Pratima Sagar) kept so clear and apt with the tambura and the Tala Patras. There were just two powerful mediums – poetry and satva oriented dancing!

The music ensemble comprising Shri Venu Madav on Vocal, Shri I.V. Renuka Prasad on Nattuvangam and Jathi compositions, Shri TP Blasubramaniam On Mridangam, Shri Sai Kumar on Violin, Smt Uma Venkateswarulu on Flute, Shri Sridharacharya on Percussion brought serenity at its peak. Not to forget, we got laddoos as prasadam for attempting a sneak peak into the Lord’s life!