A treat for the eyes and the soul – Ramaa Bharadvaj’s MITRA
In August 2014, Bangalore audience got to witness a remarkable solo-dance story “MITRA- Dance Hymn to Friendship” created and performed by Ramaa Bharadvaj. It was presented at the elegant Abhinava Dance Space as part of Abhinava’s Sabha Concert Series.
Using the theme of friendship as inspiration, what Ramaa created on stage in her 2-Act performance, cannot be adequately described even with the best of words.
She began with Mitranjali, in which, her representation of connectivity with every “Creation of God, big and small”, was the ultimate friendship line this writer has ever come across. What a simple solution for so many problems we face! The fact that through our breath, a trivial (much ignored) activity, we are connected to every creation was brought out distinctly in her choreography. When God has woven his creation so intricately, her ‘Abhinaya’ effectively showed us how this needs to be valued and maintained by detesting battles, anger, hatred and by spreading love and peace! In a delicate finish, as she showered rose petals, her message seemed to reach the audience with a soft touch and fragrance that made them spontaneously break into applause. What an excellent way of spreading the message of love in a dance performance, through the flower that depicts LOVE!
In the second Act, titled Mitrakatha, the story of Krishna and Sudhama’s friendship from Bhagavatam, a mythological text, was recreated so expertly, that we could not stop tears from flowing. Out of so many flavors of friendship we find in mythology, kudos to Ramaa for picking this very humble friendship story.
The selection and arrangement of lyrics by Ramaa herself and the music composition by Rajkumar Bharathi brought the real Sudhama there for us with all his humbleness and troubles but still being the happiest person singing the praise of Lord Krishna. He did not need anything else, but the practicalities of life bring him back to this material world.
Ramaa showed us how a single dancer can paint a vivid and realistic portrayal of not only various characters appearing and disappearing but also of changing scenes and sets. We could literally see the small broken house of Sudhama and his children asking for milk from their mother Kalyani. The sub-stories that she wove into developing the character of a desperate mother created an immense pain in our guts, even as we sat there watching this scene.
As Sudhama sets off to Dwaraka to meet his beloved childhood friend Krishna, one could not miss the pathway Sudhama takes and how he relates everything to Krishna. Ramaa created the most poetic description in this scene bringing together Nature and Krishna’s form in an ultimate depiction of the heights of Bhakti. It made one wish that this form of Bhakti prevailed everywhere.
Ramaa’s introduction of humor was delightful when she showed rich men bullying each other by arrogantly showing off of their riches and their ignorance without an ounce of Bhakti. Through interweaving such sub-stories she kept the audience in rapt attention. When Sudhama introduces himself to the guards, the way in which she showed his name reaching Krishna’s ears created a truly WOW moment. It was a mesmerizing, even a mind-blowing depiction with the right moves and splendid music.
Ramaa’s beautiful portrayal of the two friends meeting, and how ‘God’ Himself, with his family, serves his friend, was a fulfilling scene filled with so much purity that it once again induced tears of happiness in us. This story does have a happy ending – Sudhama’s house becomes a palace, his wife is studded with jewellery and his children are all well fed and happy. But Sudhama only gets closer to Krishna and hugs him in “Friendship”, the divine form of love.
Throughout this production, whether it be Sudhama’s children being hungry, or the myriad emotions Sudhama goes through when asked by his wife to meet Krishna, or how he shows his gratitude to Krishna in the end, Ramaa made every character come alive, every scene perceptible and every emotion palpable. It is hard to believe that so much could be presented by a single person in such a short act. One cannot but help but fall in love with Ramaa not only for her brilliance in dance, but for the purity of her soul, to have created this wonderful production which she dedicated to Swami Tejomayananda whose musical discourse on Friendship she said, had inspired this production. Yes! Ramaa Bharadvaj’s MITRA was truly a treat for the eyes and the soul.
About Yamuna …
Yamuna, a manager at Capgemini, is also a mother and wife. She loves being connected to “Sajjan” through conversations and attending cultural presentations. She has been fortunate to learn Soundary Lahiri and Shivananda Lahiri composed with 120 ragas and other keerthanas and bhajans from Sangeetha Vidwan M R Prabhakara Shastry. While she loves visiting places of historical importance, she also enjoys being a home-maker. Her hobbies are jewellery designing, gardening and reading (any genre of books).