Everything about Chennai inspires me,” said Sharmistha Mukherjee. The world renowned kathak dancer and daughter of Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee performed for the first time in the city on Monday. Kathak Nritya, that opened to a packed Narada Gana Sabha, showcased a cocktail of diverse themes, such as portions of Krishna and Radha from the epic Mahabharata and a few experimental pieces as well. Take for instance, the Sound of Rhythm, a composition with no music whatsoever. The dancers took their places on stage in a singular line. Each wore an ankle belt of a different size to create a percussion effect in harmony with their feet alone. Perhaps out of all the sequences choreographed by Mukherjee, this one captivated the audience most. The spotlight focused luminously on six pairs of feet, while their faces remained covered in darkness.
Later, Kamal Haasan commented, “What I enjoyed most was the generosity with which Sharmistha let the other dancers also shine through.” He added, “That is the true mark of an artiste.”
In vibrant hues of red, orange and gold, several dancers in the troupe particularly impressed the audience with their synchronised twirls to speedy percussion, leaving one almost dizzy at times. In her final piece, Mukherjee surprised spectators with a performance to Antonio Vivaldi’s, Four Seasons. After the show, one journalist thought it pertinent to pose a question of Mukherjee’s wish list for the Union budget. However, Mukherjee urged the scribe politely not to mix politics with dance.
Although this kathak danseuse has performed all over the world, she stated that performing in Chennai was something that she has always looked forward to. “All the greatest artistes are from here — the musical culture is overwhelming,” Mukherjee said. In fact, this artiste’s journey with dance began when her mother saw noted bharatanatiyam dancer, Padma Subramaniam on stage. This was something that she got to share with Subramaniam in person after the performance. Asked about classical singers from Chennai that she has enjoyed listening to, and she responded, “MS Subbhalakshmi is one carnatic vocalist that I really look up to.”