Three perspectives, one truth via Bharatanatyam

Wednesday, 18 September 2013 00:07 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Classical dancing diva Sastry captivates Colombo audience with her solo performance By Shabiya Ali Ahlam A renowned classical dancer from India last week gave a captivating performance in Colombo bringing a new meaning to the art of Bharatanatyam. Best known in India as the ‘dancing storyteller’, Savitha Sastry narrated through her dance a short story titled ‘Yudh. Three perspectives, one truth’. Choreographed and performed by Sastry, “Yudh” is the story about a battle of equals with a young girl named Pavitra at the centre of attraction. She gets kidnapped from her parents and is never heard of again. This scenario which is common in the world today is presented through the eyes of God, Satan, and the girl’s parents. The story implies the war between Satan and God fought in the human mind with both attempting to exert their influence. Divided into nine scenes, the performance at the Auditorium of the Buddhist Cultural Hall concluded with Sastry expressing through her dance the winner of this war between God and Satan is eventually determined in the human mind although they may be unaware of this eternal battle or the reasons for suffering for no fault of theirs. In Yudh an appreciative audience saw the classical dancing diva in four roles as she creatively portrayed the image of God, Satan, Pavitra, and the parents. The hour long ballet of Sastry’s graceful movements, expressive eyes, and the smooth transition from one character to another left the fully packed audience spellbound. It wasn’t the first performance in Sri Lanka for Sastry. In 2012, she introduced herself to the nation with her performance titled ‘Soul Cages-The story of life, death, and beyond’.  Her first production was ‘Music Within’, with which in 2009 she kicked off theme based performances after departing from traditional ‘margams’, customary order in which classical dancing is performed. In line of her previous two productions ‘Music Within’ and ‘Soul Cages’, Yudh also deviates away from the traditional Bharatanatyam theme of the ‘nayika’, the heroine, yearning for love based on ‘bhakti’, devotion, alone. All of Sastry’s productions have been based on short stories conceptualised by her husband A. K. Srikanth.  With other renowned personalities in her team, the sound tracks for the productions have been composed by Rajkumar Bharathi, the great grandson of veteran poet Subramania Bharathi. Following the success of her three performances, Sastry is now working on her next production titled ‘The Prophet’, also written by Srikanth. Sastry started her training in bharatanatyam at the age of seven under the guidance of Guru Mahalingam Pillai at the Sri Rajarajeswari Bharatha Natya Kala Mandir in Mumbai, and later with Adyar K. Lakshman and the Dhananjayans in Chennai, India. In 1986 she was featured as the lead dancer in a Tamil film titled ‘Ananda Tandavan’, a production of her Guru Lakshman. The solo dance theatre by Sastry was hosted by the Express Newspapers (Cey)  Ltd.