Birju Maharaj presents pure Kathak evening in DhakaPunny Kabir
Everything in the universe has rhythm and everything in the nature dances— a rolling performance by kathak maestro pundit Birju Maharaj reminded the truth on Monday at the National Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.
The iconic kathak artiste’s soulful performance was, indeed, a show to be remembered for the jam-packed audience. It was not a solo dance recital, however, the evening was a tribute to the living legend Maharaj, who is a recipient of the Padma Vibhushanaward, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, and many other accolades over the span of his long career as a performing artist.
Leading dance troupe Nrityanchal in association with Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, organised the show following a five-day workshop( June 21-25) conducted by Maharaj. Participants of the workshop demonstrated some pure Kathak dance pieces and a dance drama composed by Maharaj.
As the curtain went up, Nrityanchal artistes presented short dance compositions known as tukras by the kathak dancers.
Subsequently, Shibli Mohammad, the first Bangladeshi student of pundit Birju Maharaj, gave a moving and emotional speech sharing his attachment and reverence to the kathak guru. He introduced the pundir Birju Maharaj to the houseful audiences, who gave a standing ovation expressing their deep respect for the maestro. Bangladesh Shilpakala Acedemy director general Liaquat Ali Lucky adorned the master artiste with uttariya as a souvenir from Bangladesh. Two more guest artistes- Mamata Maharaj, Birju Maharaj’s daughter, and Saswati Sen, Maharaj’s foremost disciple- were also honored.
It was followed by the dazzling kathak dance recitals presented by the 200 participants of the workshop in several groups. With colourful attires and resonance of ghoongroos, they presented the lessons they took from the kathak maestro demonstrating in different mudras, talas and layas, which ended with a dramatic climax synchronised with ‘bols’ (rhythmic words).
Composed by pundit Birju Maharaj, Nrityanchal artistes led by eminent local dancing duo Nipa and Shibli, staged dance drama Basabdutta, adapted from Tagore’s timeless poem Abhisar highlighting humanism through a teaching by Buddha.
The protagonist of the narrative Bashabdutta, a beautiful dancer of the royal court of Mathura, was played by Nipa while Shibli was present on the stage as the King.
Thanks to Maharaj’s mastery on composition, the storyline of the performance could easily communicate the audience. With repeated round of applauses, the audience appreciated the dance drama that emphasised on abhinaya (acting), a prime part of Kathak.
The audience was moved at the ultimate climax of the story, when Basabdutta becomes ugly and gets ousted from the royal court, which was presented with all the charismas of dramtisation. Finally, a young mendicant called Upagupta comes to rescue her and makes her realise the values of inner beauty and kindness towards others.
It was followed by solo performances of Mamata and Saswati, two disciples of the pundit. The conventional and unconventional modes of kathak presented by them mesmerised the audience. Both of them presented spectacular recitals on Trital, which is
considered to be the toughest tempo to dance on. And their performances reflected their devotion to the Lucknow gharana and their guru.
A documentary on pundit Birju Maharaj was also screened at the programme featuring different aspects of life of the versatile
artiste who is also a
wonderful classical singer with a strong grip over thumri, dadra, bhajan and ghazals.
The 15-minutes video also highlighted his contribution as a choreographer to give the classical kathak a new height.
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