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Abhibandana Tagore!

It is fascinating how every celebration in India is a soulful moment of togetherness. And if it is a cultural celebration, no wonder it blossoms a meeting of like minds and interdisciplinary exchanges!

Sangeet Natak Academy, India’s preeminent art promoter brought together a silted amalgamation of Rabindranath Tagore, music, dance and drama in a five day festival held at Ravindra Bharathi, Hyderabad. The Kalaparva reports some of the glimpses.

The festival started with a sparkle with His Excellency the ever elegant Governor E.L Narasimhan and the First Lady inaugurating, only to give Hyderabad’s very own Dr. Ananda Shankar Jayant the stage to unravel the works of the mystic poet.

Dr. Ananda’s production ‘Kavyanjali- An ode to Gurudev’ was a visual imagery, as perfect as Gurudev himself. The red dotted costumes, the trademark large sized bindis, the jhumkas and the graphic technicalities, all bore the stamp of an intricately thought woven creation.

Kavyanjali by Dr Ananda Shankar & team

The shining glory though was the reverberating music ensemble that diligently forms the backbone for all her works. Musician, composer and scholar Venu Madhav touched upon every layer of emotical content through Telugu translations of Tagore’s lyrics and Sayanthani Chakrabarti, draining into her potent high toned vocal texture spurned some beautiful rendition of Rabhindra Sangeet.

Renuka Prasad made a thumping display of Nattuvangam and more so a combined effort of him and Venu Madhav controlling the entire eight member orchestra ensured a musically pleasing and rhythmically harmonic presentation.

The ‘Vande Twam Bhudevi’ was a simple revered salutation both physically and musically and the solo number ‘Momochitte’ with Dr. Ananda’s spotlight based dancing was admirable! The finale had to be grand and none other than ‘Gitanjali’, for it is too tempting to be left out, though carried the risk of being repetitive. The telugu connect of Gitanjali being equal to ‘Ekantaseva’ was just justifying to present to an intrusive Hyderabad gathering.

The Prophet and the poet
Another simple yet scintillating effort came in the form of the English play ‘The Prophet and the poet’ by the Academy of Fine Arts, Bangalore Little Theatre. A visual deconstruction of the Tagore – Mahatma Gandhi association over 2 decades, the play turned the pages of history, refreshed memories and instilled a feeling of indebtedness towards the two national leaders. Where the clashes in the view of the leader and the poet were shown with the required subtleness, the dialogues were brisk and noteworthy. Some of Tagore’s best poetic phrases were intelligently woven. Dialogues like - “Hate the evil but not the evil doer”, “I have the power to conceive but not carry out”, and Gandhi calling Tagore “Poet of Humanity” stood out for the good direction by Vijay Padaki, strong execution by the characters - Anshul Pathak exploring Gandhi, Abhijit Ganguly exploring Tagore to near perfection and Madhu Smriti Shukla doing a fine narrative.

‘Gora’ adopted from the novel of its name by Tagore and translated into a Kannada play brought the curtains down for the festival. Gora revolved around the character of an orthodox Brahmin trying to bring together an India which he visualized as a land of equality, prosperity and happiness. Set against the backdrop of the then Bengal of Gurudev’s time, Gora goes on to fight against inequality and corruption of the British towards the lower strata of the society.

Gora - A Kannada play

Prashanth Hiremath playing Gora exhibited power packed acting with effortless ease and flawless expression! Equally oriented were all the numerous characters of the play (including the boys who were employed to shift props on stage!). The stage setting and costumes dripped of ethnicity creating the much suited ambience for a carefully conceived production, albeit a lengthy one!

The festival reiterated the fact that when Sangeet Natak Academy does it, rest assured it gives its audience quality, quantity and quintessence!

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