Guest Column

Exuberant Kuchipudi And Timid Odissi: Second  Evening Of Konark Festival 2023

By
Kedar Mishra

An open-air auditorium is jammed with thousands of spectators and imagine what they are watching? In the magnificent backdrop of Konark, the epitome of Odishan architecture, Indian classical dancers are performing Kuchipudi and Odissi, and this joyful audience is gathered and cheering them there. That’s the magic of the Konark Festival in Odisha. Here people don’t come to watch any Bollywood show but to have a taste of real India. It was an overwhelming spectacle of a jam-packed auditorium for Indian classical dance, which deserves the first applause. This extraordinary audience inflow makes the Konark Festival a unique and unparalleled one.

The second evening of the festival began with a great show of Kuchipudi by Padmashree awardee maestro Jaya Rama Rao and his superbly talented group from Delhi. Jaya Rama Rao’s group started their presentation with an ovation to Omkar. It was an invocation to lord Shiva. Guru Jaya Rama Rao led the show like a true maestro with his precise but vigorous movements.

Dasavataram and Durga Tharangam are textbook choreographies in Kuchipudi but the remarkably involved dancing of the group has enabled them to surpass the bookish limitations. Every bit of the dance was captivating, well synchronised, and hugely expressive. During a mesmerising group performance, half a minute of the solo of the Mahishasura can be zoomed in as the highlight of this production. The group concluded their presentation with an evocative Thillana as a tribute to Mother India. This was truly a masterly presentation by an experienced maestro.

Following the exuberant Kuchipudi a half-baked choreographic presentation of Odissi by Delhi-based Odissi exponent Ranjana Gauhar (also a Padmashree awardee) was truly pathetic. In a festival where thousands are gathered with high hopes should not get the bitter test of such poorly choreographed Odissi. The Odissi presentation was adulterated with un-aesthetic and improper  Odissi costume, imbalanced and out-of-sync music, and mechanical dance movements which were mere futile swings. There was no curatorial vision in the ideation or the presentation. It was pathetically a timid one.

It’s very unfortunate to see the audacity of the claim that “Radharani sange nache muralipani” is musically composed by Ramachandra Sahu and choreographed by Ranjana Gauhar. The duo simply copy pasted the classic composition of its original music composer late Harihar Panda and the legendary guru Pankaj Charan Das. Such unethical practice is unacceptable and needs wider condemnation.

 

Kedar Mishra

Writer, Journalist & Critic

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