Seeing Rama through Thyagaraja’s krithis

Subsequently, the dancers mesmerised the audience with another masterpiece, ‘Ra Ra Maa Intidaka,’ depicting Lord Hari being invited into the house, displaying the procession of Sri Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana.
Pramod Reddy and the group perform ‘Ramamrutham.
Pramod Reddy and the group perform ‘Ramamrutham.(Photo | Sri Loganathan Velmurugan)

HYDERABAD: The beauty and divinity of the legendary 18th-century composer and vocalist Thyagaraja came alive on the stage of Ravindra Bharathi as dancers vividly depicted the depth of his compositions through Bharatnatyam. Organised by Abhinetri Arts Academy and Paramparaa, Pramod Reddy and the group performed ‘Ramamrutham’—a nectar of Thyagaraja, transporting the audience back to Thyagaraja’s era.

Explaining the concept behind the production, Pramod Reddy, dancer and choreographer of the show, shared, “Initially, when I was working on Thyagaraja’s krithis, my focus slowly shifted to Lord Rama. I opted to showcase Thyagaraja’s krithis, making them accessible in different formats to common people. This way, Lord Rama is connected to everyone, not just restricted to dancers or musicians.”

The bhakti ballet commenced with ‘Sri Gananadham,’ invoking the blessings of Lord Ganesha, a popular Indian tradition. The performance unfolded with well-known Thyagaraja compositions such as ‘Rama Kodanda Rama’ and ‘Haridasulu,’ depicting the Haridasulu who sing the hymns of Hari Rama Sankeertana from door-to-door. The melodious music for this ballet was presented by Swetha Prasad on vocals, Renuka Prasad on mridangam, and Meduri Srinivas on veena.

“I wanted to create a thematic dance performance centred around Thyagaraja and Rama. So, I chose to base the theme on the sequence of events, connecting it to our daily lives, such as how we welcome someone into our home, show our respect towards them, and offer them our offerings. Similarly, we chose this concept and implemented it, assuming how we treat Rama as a friend, as a human being, and then transforming into God,” explained Pramod Reddy.

Subsequently, the dancers mesmerised the audience with another masterpiece, ‘Ra Ra Maa Intidaka,’ depicting Lord Hari being invited into the house, displaying the procession of Sri Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana. This particular piece was a defining moment as the audience was left spellbound, completely immersed in the divinity depicted in the performance. This was followed by ‘Gandhamu Puyaru ga,’ which showed how gopikas adorn the Lord with sandalwood, a golden scarf, apply red tilak on his forehead, and venerate him by lighting multiple diyas, culminating in the display of the Rama Darbar. The ballet concluded with a thillana, a concise piece of rhythmic music. Alongside Pramod Reddy, other dancers including Arunjyothi, Madhuri, Swetha, Akshaya, Kavya, Anushka, Vidhushi, Krithi, Sanvi, Hasini, and Chandana captivated the audience.

Pramod Reddy illuminated the complete process of working on the performance. “I have a book filled with thousands of Thyagaraja compositions. While going through it, I selected songs to fit the concept in a step-by-step process. The biggest task was to select suitable compositions, as there were many. I chose the ones that people are familiar with and can easily hum along. After finalising the compositions, I worked with the musicians to set the rhythm and then began choreographing the movements and jathi formats. Once all this groundwork was done, we proceeded with the recording and rehearsals, which took almost two to three months,” he told CE.

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