Vasanta Utsav at Viswabharati

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Vasanta Utsav is celebrated in Viswabharati a day before Holi, which makes it one of the most important festival in Eastern India started by Rabindranath Tagore.

Vasanta Utsav is celebrated every year in Chowdhury House in Kolkata to mark the festival of colour and joy of the season with a Cultural evening. This year Shyamal Mallick presented Rabindranath Tagore‘ s Dance Drama, ‘Shapmochan’.

Rabindranath Tagore had woven a unique story, where the protagonist was cursed to take birth on earth to condone for his sin of missing a beat in his percussion instrument while accompanying Urvasi’s dance in the court of Indra, the king of Heaven.

As a punishment, he was banished from heaven. For Madhusri, heaven without her lover Sourasen was not a place she wanted to be in.

At the behest of Indrani, the queen, she too was born on earth as Kamalika. Sourasen was born as King Aruneswar with ugly features.

As destined the couple parted from heaven remembering their parting with sweet thoughts, made immortal with the penned lyrics of the universal poet.

Choreographer Shyamal Mallick aesthetically blended more than one style of dance movements to tell the story of Shapmochan.

The story of Shapmochan basically was the love story of Sourasen and Madhusri. Anirban Dutta and Roma Das were in the role of Sourasen and Madhusri respectively. They glided through the stage in the movements of allegro, sautés and jetes -with the male dancer lifting the female with elan. Seeing the various movements of the western ballet was a treat. The costumes worn were evocative of heaven. They seemed to be dancing in the clouds in a blended western ballet and creative style.

The song “Bhara thak bhara thak smriti sudhaye bidayer patra khani…” marked the separation of the lovers.

Aruneswar carrying the burden of his curse was poignantly etched. The use of songs with symbolic romantic elements added Natya to the play. Aruneswar is constantly in mental agony and makes a mental search for his beloved. He dissolved his sorrow into his music. The imaginative use of lighting enhanced the difference. The choreographer Shyamal Mallick in the role of Aruneswar proved himself to be an excellent dancer. His dance blended with Kalaripayattu, Kathakali, Bharatanatyam and Kathak. The story had a good flow through Tagore’s unparalleled lyrics. The raaga based songs in Shapmochan was what lent the drama its beauty.

Aruneswar chances to see a picture of Kamalika and propose to marry her.

It was a one-of-its-kind marriage. Aruneswar planned to show himself to Kamalika when she would be fully in love with his inner beauty. The many splendoured ‘sringar’ rasa- or love feelings, richly embellished with the power of poetry. Kamalika exchanged joy mala with the Bina of Aruneswar to seal the bonds of marriage. Kamalika enacted by Moumi  Dasgupta was well done because she is an excellent dancer.

Aruneswar dancing with his companions

An innovative gesture was shown by Aruneswar in sending his Bina to represent him. Music was the soul of Aruneswar. That was indeed the message of the poet. It was his music, which came from the depth of his heart that he wanted Kamalika to wed and not be disheartened by his ugly exterior. Kamalika was given fitting and lively farewell.

All that was bright in Kamalika’s house contrasted with all that was dark in the groom’s house. The bride could only be with her lover when it was dark. She never got to see him though she very much longer too. Aruneswar urged her to know his inner beauty first, lest she sees him before she was mentally ready to see his exterior.

The impatience of the bride portrayed realistically and Aruneswar was left with no other option, but to reveal himself to her. There was poignancy in Kamalika’s disappointment.

Rabindranath Tagore’s greatness lay in using the music of the Bina to unlock the mind of Kamalika and encounter the inner beauty of Aruneswar. The curse was symbolically broken, uniting the eternal pair.

The storyline had immense dramatic possibilities, fully utilized by Shyamal Mallick, who has choreographed the piece.

The costumes worn were too loud and the designer needs to give more thought towards the kind of costumes and jewellery that the dancers should wear.

The concept of Abantipur Om Foundation was praiseworthy.

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