G. Narendra’s performance was themed on Hanuman. | Photo credit: S. Thanthoni
Senior Bharatanatyam dancer G Narendra followed a simple concept – to focus on Hanuman for the entire scheduled time of 75 minutes. Led by a Dhyana Sloka ‘Manojavam Maruta Tolia Vigam’ Varnam ‘Pavanam Thanda Bhavana Madhle’ (Retigula, Aadi, lyrics by Prof. Raghuraman, set by Hariprasad Kanyal).
One felt that one was watching a Purana of Hanuman’s adventures. Sancharis were not rushed, and each episode was painstakingly prepared with intense concentration and thorough planning. Narendra, one of the first male dancers of his generation to achieve popularity, has been successful as a choreographer, using Bharatanatyam to create stunning contemporary works such as Abhihas and The Living Tree.
All the encouragement Narendra needs is, and he certainly was encouraging that afternoon and he gave his best in a recital that was heart-warming, explanatory and entertaining as well as all round. was classical, with some added theatricality.
Narendra enjoyed every moment. A charming moment was Hanuman as a bright child trying to fly. He fails at first, and then, helped by his parents, tries again and succeeds. He looks down, discovering how small the others look. Her father ensures a safe landing, catching her as she descends. Walking and rolling on the floor was unrestrained and cute.
On a mission to check on the citizens of Rama’s kingdom, Hanuman slaps a Rama devotee who was chanting his name during ablution, angering Rama. It is then elaborated, followed by the famous incident of baby Hanuman chasing the sun, mistaking it for a large fruit on the top of a tree. Hanuman’s visit to Lanka and the lifting and fetching of Mount Sanjivani are other episodes presented.
Narendra did not just present stories. Thirmanam in varnam was executed with straight lines and grace, in terms of perfection.
The orchestra played with sensitivity — Sruthi Sagar (flute), Klairasan (violin) and Ramesh Babu (percussion: matalam, mridangam). Banu Gopal (voice) and Mahalakshmi Kamaswaran (Ntungam) held the show together with a fine rendition of the jathis and Narendra’s free-flowing interpretation of ‘Manodharam Sancharyas’.
There was to be Padma and Thalana, but there was no room for anyone but Hanuman.