Sri Ramacharitham: The story of Rama in a capsule

Pleasant music and simple dance made ‘Sri Ramacharitham’ pleasant to watch

The Ramayana, in any form, has its own beauty and the way it appeals to different audiences. The story, the bhakti element, interwoven with evocative music and the evergreen Kandams make it worthy of viewing.

‘Sri Ramacharitham’ presented by Kala Srinivasan, Shanmukha Arts, Mumbai, at the Sister Nivedita Auditorium, Vivekanandar Illam, proved this again. Sincere dancing, well put together musical interpretations and an ambience around the Marina along with the beach breeze, made the experience fairly enjoyable.

In 90 minutes, the entire Ramayana was portrayed through a series of brief scenes — aided by visuals of paintings and moving images, music composition by Shankari Krishnan and dancing by the students of Shanmugha Arts. It moved at a rather fast pace with not much frills. The dancing was earnest which is what matters when it comes to conveying the story and the thought behind such endeavours. The dancers — of different age groups — threw themselves into their roles, some playing multiple. Some of the younger ones did an admirable job of their nritta as well as the bhava, playing as they did the monkeys, birds and other animals, acting as a good foil to the key characters of the Ramayana. Some of the visual imagery – like the boat which takes Rama across the river with Guhan, Jatayu and his valiant attempts to save Sita, Hanuman leaping off the mountain and the forest scene with Soorpanakha — brought alive some of the most pivotal moments in the Epic. The music accompaniment gave it added impetus as did some of the illustrations of scenes from the story as the background.

Beginning with the birth of Rama and going on till the Yuddha Kandam, the production was simple, unpretentious and a celebration of the teacher/choreographer’s dedication to the art of Bharatanatyam. All the emotions came through and that is what gave this production its connect with the audience. This was first done for their 10th anniversary celebrations and the team came to Chennai, fittingly at the behest of the Ramakrishna Mission.

In her first attempt at composing for a dance-drama, Shankari Krishnan had succeeded in coming up with music of a pleasant and consistent quality.

Giving her vocal support were Shivaranjani, Aishwarya and Pavitra (all her students). On the violin was Arushi Ramesh, on the flute Sruthi Sagar, on the veena Srividhya, on the mridangam Nellai Balaji, special effects Venkat, on the tabla Vikram. The entire music was recorded at Surang Studio.

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