CHENNAI: A thing of beauty is a joy forever’, goes the saying. Every aspect connected to Antaram was surreal and beautiful and the means, through which it was perpetrated, was the purest medium in relinquishing life’s beautiful moments, tradition, the immemorable tales and strong imprints that people leave behind in the pages of history — dance.
Antaram, conceived by Gopika Varma and presented by the Namaargam Dance Company at the Music Academy recently, was an ensemble of classical dance, music, theatre and technology. The dance production had bharathanatyam dancer Krithika Subrahmanian, kuchipudi dancer Yamini Reddy and mohiniyattam dancer Gopika Varma bring their areas of forte to the audience through the vibrant depiction of the mythological characters Kannagi, Vasavi, Andal and Aatukal Bhagavathy.
Krithika says, “Antaram is a strong concept and we have used four Southern States, four languages, making these characters come alive in a classical dance form.”
Antaram derives its name from the lives of these female characters who attained divinity within themselves, as Krithika enacted the role of Andal, Yamini as Vasavi, Gopika as Kannagi who later became Aatukal Bhagavathy in Kerala. The surprise package of the production was Suhasini Maniratnam, who also danced to some tunes in the performance, which were composed by OS Arun, Rajkumar Bharathi, D Sheshachari of Hyderabad Brothers and Arun Gopinath, while the music for the theatrical portions (by Suhasini) was by AR Rahman. Stalwarts of classical dance, Padmabhushan Raja Radha Reddy, Padmashri Sudharani Raghupathy and Vyjayanthimala Bali had mentored the performance and contributed their inputs as well.
Suhasini’s presence in the performance interwove real life characters such as a Tambrahm maami, whose contributions go unnoticed, Air hostess Amrita Ahluwalia, who rescued a 11-year-old Ameena from being married off to an aged Arab in 1991, and other characters, in addition to the portrayal of Rhamba, a Sri Lankan girl from Karnataka, who fell in love with the Mughal King Adil Shah and sacrificed her life to prove her love for him.
She also gave her rendition to the character of Rhamba through an aerial dance, which came as a surprise to the audience.
In exploring the character’s story, the attributes of devi or the powerful divine feminine form was revealed. While Rhamba emerges as the culmination of feminine aspirations in liberation, Vasavi is a manifestation of intellectual knowledge, Kannagi becomes an entity of dynamism and Andal becomes the envisioning power. In a nutshell, Antaram was a tribute to femininity, the magnanimity and the immense potential that it holds, which enthralled all.