Photo: DARSHAN CHAKMA
Whether radiating as a tale from childhood or to pious actualities of belief, Khrishna and Radha can be two very fundamental characters concerning the symbolical divinity we know of. Khrishna -- being the masculine aspect of God, and Radha -- his ultimate devotee being the feminine, depicts each other to be on the head of the heap mythology has gathered over ages. Sporting the narrative of Astha Prahar Sankirtan, Shadhona – in association with 'Dhrumel', based in Kamalganj – premiered a virtuous interpretation with dance drama “Prematritam” on February 16, at the Music and Dance Department auditorium of the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.
The production, basing on the Bangla Vaisnava Padavalis from medieval Bangladesh, has been directed, choreographed and conceptualised by Mou Das, portraying sublimely the love-play, separation, and union between the flute-playing cowherd Krishna and the cowherdess Radha. The staging of an hour had in store the majestic portrayal of the tale of Sri-Radha, who is understood to be the individual soul that feels abandoned by God, symbolised by Krishna, who, in turn, loves all souls and is therefore accused of infidelity by Radha. But overcoming her hurt, Radha finally rejoins her lover in a passionate union.
The performance began with performers of Dhrumel sitting faced towards the audience with musical instruments in hand, harmoniously creating entering an ambience using pena, mridanga and mandira, and then lyrical vocal joining in. After a musical introduction, the dancers dressed in Manipuri ethnic costumes started off poising with Chamars in gesture of preaching to God while a reciting man sat, chanting the prayers as the dancers moved. The reciter flipped pages of a book and the performance trailed ahead with a background of magnificent décor -- sporting an artistic pictorial Khrishna holding a flute at the back of the stage. The performance carried off with the effeminate 'Mayabi', leading to 'Chalans'( movements) of animals and birds, a scene of 'Khela' with all the dancers joyously dancing and at the same time playing and chasing each other, and also a part where three mridanga players play their instruments and dance their hearts out.
Mou Das – a Manipuri dancer from Kolkata but residing in Bangladesh now -- herself played Radha's role was exemplary in her stances. Khrishna's role was played by Amit Chowdhury, husband to Mou Das and a renowned dancer himself.
The production was supported by India Bangladesh Foundation and Dhrumel, who with Shadhona has been undergoing a prolonged project to promote and preserve the Manipuri culture. “Prematritam” showcased songs of the Bangla Vaishnava Padabali, sung during rituals and festivals.
The writer is a budding dancer.