BENGALURU: In her new dance production, Rukmini Vijayakumar depicts Meera’s struggle through a prison-like life and how the mythological character breaks the shackles, only to be tied to The Dark Lord.
Inspired by the stories of love for Lord Krishna, the actress will be premiering her latest dance theatre production “The Dark Lord - Lament of the poetess of Love” in the city.
The primary story follows that of Meera, but idioms and images are borrowed from Radha, Meera, Andal, Rukmini and even some of the other saints such as Kanakadasa. “Images and representations of lesser known stories of other people following a search for the self are also reflected through the story of Meera,” says Rukmini.
Challenging the status quo
The interesting part about the production is how the story depicts the struggles and contradictions of all those who search within themselves to know the “consciousness”. There are societal limitations on almost everything that one does. Anything that does not follow the norm, is considered to be dangerous to the stability of societal status quo. “The same was with Meera,” says Rukmini.
Meera’s idyllic childhood, progresses into a life that is like a prison claims the danseuse. The production follows this story, and one sees how Meera breaks free. Breaking free in any spiritual pursuit comes not from having the ability to do whatever you want, but it comes more from not needing to do anything at all in this context. “We see how she finally gives up everything in order only to be tied to The Dark Lord,” says Rukmini.
The story of Meera is one of self discovery. She goes through her life and ultimately decides on what is important to her during the course of her life. “She fights for it and lets go of everything else. Isn’t this what we are all trying to do,” says the performer.
Making Bharatanatyam accessible
Sometimes the stylisation of Bharatanatyam makes it inaccessible to an audience that is not well versed with the form, says Rukmini. “This production uses the Bharatanatyam vocabulary to draw images of societal idioms that we are familiar with. I am hoping that this will help people connect to the story and place it into a time and society that they know,” she adds.
The dannseuse says this production is a summation of everything she has done so far. “I will have to start at the beginning after this one,” she adds.
Rukmini, however is unsure if she would recognise herself as a Lord Krishna devotee. “ I am perhaps devoted to the idea of eventually knowing myself,” she says.
The spiritual influence she has had in her life has resulted in playing Meera. “I can relate easily to the story of Meera and the emotions she felt toward Krishna. I have always grown up with stories of Krishna, and the fantasies that she had are not far from my own,” she says. Many parts of the production are built on perceptions Rukmini had in her childhood.
Breaking barriers of space
The actress is back in the city after “Kaatru Veliyidai” and a successful UK tour of the musical “Sukanya” - Pt. Ravishankar’s swan song. Almost all the lyrics in the current production are taken from the writings of Meera.
“I have one song that is taken from Jayadeva’s Geetagovindam. The lyrics and words only offer representations of situations in most case,” she says. Rukmini has taken the artistic liberty to place them in situations that she feels are apt to her storytelling.
The music is composed by Dr Rajkumar Bharati. “The story has come alive with his imagination feeding into mine,” she says. Sai Shravanam is the sound engineer on this project.
The sets for the production are quite large, but Rukmini says she has been careful not to make the sets bigger than the dance. “They tell the story and I don’t think I could do this production without the sets. Hariprasad from Prathiroopi has worked with me on designing the sets,” she says.
The production claims to break the barriers of space between performer and audience. Rukmini has tried to break the frame that the proscenium places between the performer and audience.
“Working within the constraints of budget and a proscenium theatre, this is the first attempt at doing this. I am certain it will go further with every performance that we have,” she says.
The show premieres at Guru Nanak Bhavan on July 14. Rukmini and the crew will be taking the production to Hyderabad and Malaysia later this year.