Monday, 23 June 2014

Agnijyotsna - Draupadi- Natya Parampara Utsav- A Report- 2014


Bangalore city one of the most sought after destinations in the southern part of the country for various reasons is quite on its way to becoming, if not already, a city of classical art too what with many a Festivals of repute, rich content, fabulous performances marking the annual calendar consistently the past few years.

 One such endeavour from the Kuchipudi Parampara Foundation, Bangalore was Natya Paramapara Utsav 2014 which was organised at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bangalore a locale right in the heart of the city.

The two day Utsav meticulously designed gave the art lovers an opportunity to see good performances of Kuchipudi art form which would be ethced in their memory for a very long time, particularly the premiere of ‘AGNIJYOTSNA’ – ‘The Epic Queen ‘Draupadi’.

It is really amazing that how ‘Mahabharatha’ which has been so prolifically portrayed in various mode and channels  right through the ages still holds the audience in awe and wonderstruck with its relevance even in the contemporary times with the larger than life characters of the Epic. The emotions, predicaments, the ironic twist of fate, the folly of human efforts, Divine guidance, and among all the interpretations of various authors continue to influence the exploring minds of individuals for centuries now. 


The composer of Draupadi – ‘AGNIJYOTSNA’, Shri Nallan Chakravarthula Jagannatha Acharyulu’s rich lyrics with high literary values touched the heart of the matter and lucidly brought out the true character of Draupadi, her sensitivity, dignity, forbearance and above all the purpose of her role in the great epic.

The appealing idea of AGNIJYOTSNA to bring out the depth of the essence of the character in a simple but in entirety required deft handling of the subject. In this regard, Shri N C Jagannatha Acharyulu acknowledges that to elucidate the character of Draupadi, his interpretion are in the same lines to that of Tikkana, Yerra Pragada, Nanaiah and of course the original primary author Rishi Vyasa’s approach to the epic.

The Pravesa daruvu saw the introduction of the personality right from her youth and brought out the mental status of a princess waiting for her Swamyavara and the impending start of the next stage of her life.

Draupadi’s destiny to have five husbands dating back to events pertaining  to three of her earlier janma or births was delicately enumerated in one song by the composer probably an eye opener to many in the audience who can reel out the statistics of a cricketer or that of a film star but unaware of the collosal giant of a personality who are part of our epics. How the character of Draupadi in the epic was not accidental but the net effect of her own samaskaras of earlier births did pass on the philosophical message subtly ‘One reaps what one sows’.

Draupadi as a consort of the Pandavas was not found wanting, but her  love for Arjuna, who wins her by competing in disguise in the swamyavara is a well known fact. Her special emotional attachment to Arjuna, being the first man in her life was very delicately brought out in yet another song when she keeps her dignified composure accepting Arjuna’s choice of marrying Subhadra adding depth to the character. Also the fact that among all the wives of the Pandavas, Draupadi’s extra calibre, special qualities made her earn the premier position among them showcased the all round acceptance of her extraordinary nature.

Along with the Pandavas when Draupadi too is bestowed with an opportunity to reach the doors of the heaven as a mortal being, her love for  Arjuna leads to withholding of her ascendancy on the way in Swargaroga paravam, which as the story shows that only King Dharamaja reaches the destination with his dog which is none other than Dharmadevada.

Further the lyrics should be given full credit for bringing out the Kshatriya Dharma distinctly in a few places like how a Kshatriya is obliged to accept any challenge thrown at him and accordingly Yudhishtra plays the game of dice. After all the subsequent events led to the ignominy of Draupadi, King Dhritarashtra offers her three boons and here too the lyrics brought out the Kshatriya Dharma, where in Draupadi only requests for two boons – Release of Dharmaraja and all the Pandavas to be allowed to have the possession of their weapons – Draupadi, as a Queen, could have easily asked for the entire kingdom as the third boon but Kshatriya Dharma prevented her from seeking so, since it has to be earned and won.

The exhasutive description of events that led to the epic spelt out through excellent lyrics and composed to mellifluous music, and added to the fact that the protagonist herself had to establish the situation and portray the resultant emotions, did severely test the choreography skills of Guru Vempati Ravi Shankar.


That Vempati Ravi Shankar comes out with flying colours with his customary aesthetic choreography doing full justice to both the lyrcis and the music and further added a remarkable midas touch to the character, Draupadi –‘AGNIJYOTSNA’ thereby making it complete. It speaks volumes of his skills, understanding of the subject along with the content and import of the composer and delivering in its final shape for one and all to savour for a long time to come.

Vempati Ravi’s choreography enabled the audience to easily relate and visulaise the various other unseen characters of the epic in the dance and turn of events that lead to the situation being portrayed by the protagonist while bringing out the emotional aspects in full purport and intensity for better understanding and appreciation.

Vempati Ravi’s aesthetic choreography did have the trademark Vempati’s grammar structure and fluid moments easily transporting one to the original scene of enactment of the epic like a time machine would do.

It is a well known fact that ladies are not allowed to visit the Yudha bhoomi nor the cremation site, but aptly using the Logadharmi and Natyadharmi aspects Vempati Ravi did bring out out the anguish and pain of the character losing all her children on stage and finally lamenting whether the inevitable revengeful war waged was really worth it at all.


Sri Nallan Chakravathula Buchaiah Acharyulu’s, a violin artist, music composition to the wornderful lyrcis was literally music to the ears so to say. He very whole heartedly acknowledges the rich content of the lyrics enabled him to compose such higher standard of music. He has carefully ensured that the ragas are not repeated and the usage of ragas was unique and supplemented the lyrical content to derive the necessary emotions, rasa and bhava easily at each stage of the performance.

Sri N C Buchaiah Acharyulu, further adds that generally lyrical poems do on their own have a natural laya rhythm, and right usage of the  same by Shri Nallan Chakravarthula Jagannatha Acharyulu made his task of selecting the ragas much easier as it fell in place very perfectly to go with the situation and the character portrayed.

In Pravesa Daruvu, he used Raga Malika followed with Khamboji, Mohanam, Nridhara Madhayam, Deva gandhari, Bhegada, Hindola, Hamsanandi, Kalyani etc to bring out the essence of the character in various situations that was portrayed.

Only value addtion which one can think of with regard to music was that, since the protagonist was herself a Princess, Queen, an incognito lady, a mother showcasing varied emotions, thought process, deliberations, etc., rendering of the songs by a  Female singer would have been more apt and probably welcome more wholeheartedly.


Portrayal of such a character does require a mature and an understanding artist who needs to not only keep within the boundaries but also yet effectively  complete the picture that the lyrics, music and choreography have so meticulously brought to life for the viewing pleasure of the audience.

For some one who has come out of a long hiatus, Deepa Sashindran, senior most disciple of Guru Manju Bhargavi, took up the challenge of both producing and enacting Draupadi and almost performed it to perfection with aplomb. Her maturity, dedication to excel and understanding the need to match to the rich standards set by the lyricist, music composer and the choregrapher did enable her to live upto the expecations of the audience. An commendable effort right through by Deepa Sashindran kept the performance touch the hearts of the audience through the character portrayed.

One gentle reminder to the artists of the city of Bangalore, when it comes to at least Programs, Festivals organised pertaining to the art form followed by them, it would be both courteous and great opportunity to encourage and augment the  learning process respectively by attending the same and making their presence felt along with their students if any. After all there are no better substitutes or opportunities available when it comes to adding to the learning curve of the students by attending Festivals of calibre dished out such as the Natya Parampara Utsav 2014 by the Kuchipudi Parampara Foundation, Bangalore. Hope the cue would be taken in the right spirit and transpired to action by the artists, while time is only the answer, for those who were witness to the premiere of DRAUPADI – ‘AGNIJYOTSNA’, it was after all a treat which they would remember and vouch that the play itself would become more popular and withstand the test of time!


agnijyotsna, vempati ravi shankar, nallan chakravathula buchaiah acharyulu, deepa sashindran, report, sudha sridhar, june2014, (C), do not copy, copyrights acknowledged, kuchipudi parampara, natya parampara, may2014,NALLAN CHAKRAVARTHULA JAGANNATHA ACHARYULU, contributor, bangalore

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