Omkara–Bharatnatyam Presentation by Pallavi Saran Mathur

What I am gonna write in this article is something which I sort of am skeptic about. Why? Because I fear that I might not be able to do justice to what is required to be written in appreciation of a presentation that I enjoyed last night. Haughtily calling myself as an established writer and bearing the burden of being an editor of a pan-India magazine, I feel a tizzy and jittery sensations in my body. I have felt the same way when I had the great privilege of sitting on stage with Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma and listen to his soul-rending music; and again when I literally carried the Tabla of Pt. Vijay Ghate after a concert in my home-town Nabha. Same day I talked to Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Pt. Bhajan Sopori. Now, you can imagine that condition when you are in the presence of such highly-acclaimed artists, which actually should not convey any lesser status to the artist that I will be writing about in next paragraphs. But, yes, it was totally unexpected and left me in a condition where I fumbled to say some words to the artist when I met her after her performance.

Okay, let me start with few details of what prologue I am building.

Yesterday, on 13th of November 2009, I went to watch a dance performance by Pallavi Saran Mathur. The build-up of my going there was a confusing one. Some of my friends, who are students of dance and music had their presentation at the same time–missing their performance would mean incurring a lot of friendly wrath and I have not talked to them till now inquiring whether it happened or not because I am bit afraid about how they would have been feeling. I was not sure whether I was doing the right thing by missing their performance and going for a classical dance performance, but I now feel that I did not miss something for nothing. Sincere and heartfelt apologies guys!

Being in a performance of Bharatnatyam requires a lot of attention. If you happen to be from North India and are attuned to only Hindustani Style of Indian music, you may find it a bit difficult to appreciate the refined quality of movements, gestures, and motions that the dancer would be making while synchronizing with the musical instruments used extensively in Carnatic Style of Indian music.

Pallavi Saran Mathur has been a student of Padma Vibhushan Sonal Mansingh for like 16 years. If you ask me whether she did justice to her Guru’s stature, I would answer that her Guru won’t feel anything but proud of such a student. She deserved a simple salute in being so precise and balanced in her performance. If this could be something that we can get from such young exponents of Indian art forms, I see that no wave of any culture can shake Indian roots.

The presentation was a delight right from the start. The theme of the presentation was about the dance of creation–moving from Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesha. In between there were pieces of great theatrical aspects of dance where poems of Poet Jayadeva–the 11th century poet who is considered to be last among the Classical Sanskrit Poets–were sung. She portrayed every character so beautifully. I consider that the adjectives of my English vocabulary would dry when I would start lavishing those words about what I felt!

The musicians were complementing her quite exquisitely–Mridungam deserves a special mention as it was powerful and percussive. I really liked the speed and variation of notes that the artist employed while matching the emotions of the artist.

One of the main features of the presentation was the introduction of items provided by the artist herself. She was so delicate when she spoke about what she would be portraying next that we felt riveted to her talk–the atmosphere appeared standstill and I felt being in a different plane altogether. Especially, when she talked about Krishna, it was other-worldly. So, apart from her dance performance, we also enjoyed her interspersing talks.

I have been watching lots of dance presentations recently but I would say that Pallavi’s performance stood out on many grounds. It was precise. It was passion-filled. It was expressive. It was riveting. It was balanced. It was aesthetic. It was pure. The presentation was a long one–of about 2 hours–but we never felt that it should end. Pallavi never appeared tired or worn out. She was afresh and agile in her movements for every item that she presented. I could notice that she built a strong stamina over the years while practicing.

One more thing that I noticed in Pallavi was her demeanor–she was so welcoming when the audience went to meet her after the conclusion of her performance. I have seen only a few artists who welcome the audience with so much enthusiasm but without any panache or swagger. This gesture again marked the good human being that she appears to be.

I was attending this performance with John de Prey–from England–whom I met before entering the auditorium. I have seen him in some of the earlier performances in Epicentre. While talking about Indian culture, we mentioned a lot of things. However, during the presentation, we were just marveling at the luck that we had that day. We made some interesting observations while talking between the interlude of items. Some of them are:

1. Oh my God…
2. Literally, out-of-the-world…
3. Never expected this is gonna be so powerful and precise…
4. Amazing, mind-blowing, blasting…
5. How in words we would be able to express our excitement….
6. Does she practices the whole day…
7. How quickly she switches from one role of a dancer to another while introducing her next presentation…

One of the remarks that would stand out was: “Came here by luck”, which actually should convey: “extremely lucky to be here!”

In local languages, I would like to say: “क्या बात है……ਚੱਕ ਤੇ ਫੱਟੇ….उड़ा दिए”. The presentation being pretty refined, I would like to say “ये अत्याधिक संस्कृत थी”, which means that “it was extremely refined”.

At the end, I talked to her and conveyed my sincerest appreciation. It was indeed a performance that I can remember for the life-time and would love to attend many more. I pray that may God bless Pallavi with strength and zeal to keep performing in the same vein! May God bestow His grace of her for her sincere efforts of reaching out to people through dance and bringing them close to God through those spiritually uplifting performances!

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