October 1, 2022

Meera Sreenarayanan portrays many unusual ideas

Bharatanatyam dancer Meera Sreenarayanan is also a scholar, and her dancing is characterized by quiet diligence as well as grace, confidence, and restraint. These qualities show through both in his movements and in his abhinaya.

His interpretation of padavarnam (“Innam en manam”, Charukesi, adi, Lalgudi G. Jayaraman) was intriguing because it put it into context – the reaction of two gopis when they see Uddhava instead of Krishna on the chariot coming to Brindavan. In this composition, Meera depicts the two gopis as one consumed by love and the other overwhelmed by devotion. For each line, she adopted both the bhakti and shringara rasas. One gopi had the mridangam to accompany it, and the other had the kanjira as the accompaniment. It was a good idea, well executed.

Switch roles

The composition opened with the sound of hoofs – indicating Krishna’s arrival – and the gopis are excited as they expect to see him soon. In the anupallavi, ‘Munnam payindradho’, the dancer has turned mid-sentence to represent the devotee who begs Krishna to bless him as he blessed King Mahabali in his vamana avatar. Then, as Krishna’s friend, the dancer reminds Krishna of his promise to join them when they go to steal butter.

Meera’s visualization was detailed and mature. His nritta had perfect timing, but we weren’t impressed with his range of steps. The jathis were accompanied by the flute. In this area too, she tried to innovate — “alapadma” in the trikala jathi, dominated by khanda jathi and “mrigashirsha” in the charana jathi, which turned into a Krishna flute in the arudi.

At the end of the fast charanam section, Krishna suddenly grabs the hand of the gopi, the one in love, and she blushes with joy. This segment was done with perfect timing. The music reached a crescendo, but the next moment Meera was back to being the devotee. At the end, Krishna holds them both close, perhaps to indicate that he loves them both equally.

This was followed by Swajathi ‘Kamakshi’ (Bhairavi, misra chapu). Visualized by Indira Kadambi and sung by TV Ramprasadh, who had delivered the invocation and Saraswathi Jatiswaram (rupaka, Ellappa Pillai), the music remained central to Meera’s soft-footed nritta for the swaras. His poses, many of which were unusual and inspired by temple carvings, were very good. She concluded her performance with Jayadeva’s Ashtapadi ‘Chandana charchitha’ (ragamalika, adi, musical composition: Bijeesh). Instead of sakhi, a bird carries information about Krishna to Radha. This deviation and the rest of the abhinaya were good.

There was a precious relic in the jatiswaram (rupaka) as visualized by Adyar Lakshman. His rhythmic prowess was visible in simple things like footwork while backing up, which was most enjoyable.

The musical team included Bijeesh Krishna (vocals and flute), Kalamandalam Charudutt (mridangam and nattuvangam), Suresh Namboothiri and Bhavyalakshmi Saji (violin) and Sunil Kumar (kanjira). While the music was excellent, the mridangam fillers were poetic.

Meera, who is currently mentored by senior dancer Indira Kadambi, received her initial training from Prakash, RLV Anand and Nirmala Nagaraj of Kalakshetra.

The Chennai-based writer reviews classical dance.