6th Nov 2016. It was the darkest Sunday as compared to last few months. A subtle yet sublime way of nature to let us know that her mood is changing. The cool breeze somehow overpowered my mind though, I was crossing a signal over, to start my car after a 3 hour drowsy HR lecture. Human resources is something I feel should be natural than bookish. No theories can inculcate humanity unless you are bred with it. As I began to start the car, something haunted my mind. The distance to travel was 1 km only but I was late. So, I prayed not get any unwanted traffic or hassles. I reached the Nani Palkhivala auditorium in Mani' s school in 3 mins. Thank GOD. I was just in time. After parking the vehicle as I proceeded towards the auditorium, I brushed past Mr. Balan casting a Namaste and he in return with a ushering sign and welcome Namaste. Mr. Balan and I have never met each other even though we know each other I believed by our glances. He happens to be the father of this evening's star as well as the protagonist of this humble script.. Akshaya Balan. Before I proceed please pardon me for my menial knowledge on this majestic art and my words may not do justice to the actual event.
As I entered the hall I srambled through familiar faces from my daughter's class to catch a seat as Akshaya had already occupied the stage. Akshaya's arangetram has not only been a much awaited event in their family's life but also with their well wishers right from Geeta mam's ( her janani) school colleagues wherever she worked, Akshaya's Guru Vidushi Mridula Rai, Balettans family to Akshaya's friends from her childhood. Of these some relations cherished and bottled over ages like vintage wines....the value increases as years passed. I took a seat 8 rows from behind as that was the only one seat left. Akshaya in her golden yellow and red combination bharatnatyam attire was looking like an apsara. She was invoking all the Gods from the eight directions based on Hindu mythology seeking blessings for the evening. As I gathered my breath due to the scrambles, my mind transformed into a yogic state from that moment onwards. Somehow, I felt as though there were GOD's angels with little magic wands flying around in the hall and around Akshaya. The GOD's were truly invoked and a glitter shone around the dancers realm as though a blessing kavach was formed around her..Pushpanjali was truly performed from her heart.
The next dance she performed was a mixture of a ballet in bharathnatyam as I understand. There were enactions from Mahabharata ; primarily a woman's plea to her beloved Lord Krishna telling, not to leave her for celestial duties, and to be with her. Set to the Raagam Ragamalika in Aadi Thaalam the varnam was performed to the lyrics of Gaanam Isaitha Nindraayoo. The dancer covered the stage with precision and the way she stepped in each character of the composition choreography, it left the crowd in a trance for a whole 47 minutes. The energy of the dice play scene, Dushashan dragging
After her astounding performance Akshaya deserved a breather which she took and the yellow attire gave way to a parrot green attire. She then performed a Padam to the lyrics of Mahakavi Bharathiyar's Chinnanjiru kiliye on the Raagam Ragamalika set on Roopaka Thaalam. The song a melancholy in nature covers a baby and it's mothers relation. It enacts how she protects him in each stage from its birth.Though she is in her teens the abhinaya or Natyam depicting love and fear a mother displays when her child falls on his Ist step of trying to walk, similarly the joy on completing few steps was so immaculate that as though there was a baby with her on the stage. Akshaya was at her best in cajoling, swooning, proding , teaching and at last giving the confidence while upbringing the magical invisible infant on the stage. Her Guru had choreographed the end unconventional befittingly depicting the fearlessness she has instilled in the soul of the blessed dancer herself. Instead of protecting the child the mother shows confidence in every step taken by the child and lead its life fearlessly. That’s what Akashaya’s Guru also has catapulated her too.
The next performances were a keerthanam Kaalmari Aaditya which was set to RaagamKuntala Varali on Aadi Thaalam and thenPadam Netrandhi Netathile set to Raagam Husseini and Aadi Thaalam. In between the Chief Guest, Guest of honour , Guru Mridula Rai, the orchestra team and all those behind the scenes were honoured including the compere. The Balan family respectfully honoured their duties. Notably Akshaya also performed the Jatiswaram as the 2nd Natyam prior to this which was a sequence of adavus on the notes or swaras of different layams.
Of the above, the keerthanam was a compliment from Akshaya to the ultimate dance guru Lord Nataraja. The Lord who is symbolic to the ever ecstatic dancer of this universe - Lord Shiva was visualized on the stage through Akshayas Natya Shastra poses and Mudras. The Gajahasta mudra or the dandahasta mudra and the balance over the demon symbolic to ignorance was energetic, vibrant and held the audience spellbound. The Padam Netrandhi Nerathile which explores the enchanting emotion of a young woman's jealousy towards a philanderer with whom she is in love was so exquisitely performed that one felt sad that how heartless can the philanderer be. For one moment you felt that the woman deserved it and the other moment you feel no it was not worth it. The emotion was not overtly depicted hence the dilemma. Splendid indeed!
The finale was a Thillana Kallinga Narthanam set to Raagam Gambhiranaattai on Aadi Thaalam. As the invitation mentioned it was indeed a befitting end to the evening. Lord Krishna himself danced in front of us through Akshaya and the blessings poured from all directions through claps and standing ovations which continued for such a long time that the last time I personally saw such an audience reciprocation only at the in an A R Rahman concert in Muscat. All the well wishers were huddling, congratulating and the moments were being captured by cameras around. My mind was stuck with the gleam on the face of Geeta Mam and Mridula Mam which narrated the years of sacrifice, hard work the entire family had put along with the Guru. My Namaskarams to them. The event was concluded with a sumptuous dinner in the lawns with a perfect ambience and company of joyous crowd. Thank you for giving us a memorable evening one to cherish for years to come. The darkest sunday so far had turned to a full moon day with brightness galore. Marghazi is the month of art and rejoice in South India and for us Marghazi had set in early this year..courtesy Akshaya...the Natyahansini awaiting seasons of stages to cover.