23rd November 2002 marked a milestone in the cultural world of Bangalore. It marked the start of a nine-day long ‘BHARATHANATYAM MAHOTSAVA’. Organized by the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi, this mega venture was a sincere endeavor to highlight, encourage and promote talent in the field of Bharathanatyam in our State. This festival brought together prominent Gurus and Artists from different parts of Karnataka, providing an opportunity to present their various works within the conventions of Bharathanatyam. Kudos to the efforts of Jayant Kastaur, Secretary – Sangeet Natak Akademi and C. Somashekar, Director – Department of Kannada & Culture for successfully achieving the objectives of the Akademi!
In all splendor and ethnicity, the Bharathanatyam Mahotsava was inaugurated by renowned veteran danseuse Mrinalini Sarabhai at Ravindra Kalakshetra in the presence of several stalwarts in the field of Bharathanatyam.
The nine day long festival did indeed make news. Though there was a buzz among art lovers that quite a few prominent names were missing or a few had been bracketed as artists of a different form of classical dance. I’m sure we do have a few artists among us who are capable of performing two styles of dance with equal distinction. Guess! The organizers do have to look into these matters before finalizing an event of this magnitude. There are a lot of art lovers who do agree with this! The Kapils, Imrans and Bothams were not just bracketed as mere bowlers. They were top world-class all-rounders and were given equal opportunities to both bat & bowl!
A month has passed since the festival concluded, only a few names that made a mark are remembered. Among solo performers, young Kirti Ramgopal was confident and lively, given that she had to begin the series. Padmini Ravi indeed demonstrated technical command & creativity. Her refined expressive depiction of the Ramayana through a ‘Kabir composition’ was communicative. Pratibha Prahlad and Dr. A. R. Sreedhara too made a mark…both for their on & off stage activities! It is anyone’s guess which of their activities were more significant.
“The Sridhers” & “The Kirans” were undoubtedly remarkable. The trio consisting of Praveen Kumar, Sathyanarayana Raju and Subhashini Vasant presented a highly commendable performance. Among group performance Revathi Narasimhan group, Padmini Ramchandran group, Lalitha Srinivasan group and Bhanumathi group were endearing.
The concluding day of the festival was the best and most captivating among all the days, Lakshmi Gopalaswamy’s endearing stage presence and charm was notable. Alarmel Valli presented interesting themes, which were articulately brought to life and presented. Valli’s self-developed style was little hard for the Bangalore audience to digest. What pulled and rooted the audience back to their seats was a splendid performance by the students of Bhanumathi. The presentation struck an immaculate rapport with the viewers and never deviated from aesthetic sensitivity. Each creative pose and innovative formation evoked a thunderous applause from the audience and left them yearning for more. This was what could indeed be termed the ‘grand finale’ to the festival!
Apart from the vivacity, which the evening performances exuded, the morning sessions of the Bharathanatyam Mahotsava were enlightening and interactive. Inaugurated on 24th November by the senior-most Guru in Karnataka – Shri U. S. Krishna Rao, the sessions proved to be a pedestal for artists and connoisseurs to interact and exchange views on various aspects of Bharathanatyam.
The festival indeed has etched wonderful indelible memories in the minds of artists, connoisseurs and art lovers.