One of the leading Kathak dancers of Mumbai, Paulloumi Mukherjee and repertory artists of Nrityadarpana Foundation presented traditional compositions of the Lucknow Gharana of Kathak at the Natyanjali festival in Chembur. It was interesting to watch as to how technical excellence can be merged with expressional quality with a professional touch.
Paulloumi is the only 'gandabandh' disciple of Late Ramadevi Lacchu Maharaj, who was the wife of the torch bearer of the Lucknow Gharana. Paulloumi has performed at some of the most prestigious festivals all over India and is also a professional actress, with serials to her credit. She has established the Nrityadarpana Foundation to promote and propagate classical dance forms and to inspire young aspirants and also to choreograph varied themes with a contemporary perspective. Paulloumi's style involves subtle expressions with an innate quality, besides her brilliance in the pure dance sequences.
The performance began with Ardhanareshwar, a composition by Pt Birju Maharaj and Ardhasheesh, an iconic composition by the late Lacchu Maharaj presented by Paulloumi and Sunil Sunkara. Bringing together the concept of the male and female power symbolising 'purusha' and 'prakiriti' and the common thought of two generations of revered Gurus of the Lucknow Gharana, made this a unique tribute to Ardhanareshwar Shiva. This was followed by pure dance footwork in teentaal presented by Paulloumi and repertory members Hrishita and Shraddha.
Guest Artist Khalil Alashar from Bahrain performed the sparkling Tarana in Puriya Dhanashree with subtle ease and precision, a composition of exponents Maulik Shah and Ishira Parekh. Although born in Bahrain, Khalil is Indian at heart and is quite passionate about Kathak. Khalil had most of his Kathak training under Prachi Dixit in Los Angeles USA. It is said that art transcends the boundaries of race and religion, and Khalil’s heartfelt rhythmic tribute to Natraja was evidence of this. The finale of the presentation was through a colourful Thumri Maalika of compositions by Bindadin Maharaj, where Khalil portrayed the role of Krishna in “Aawat Shyam” and Paulloumi the role of Radha in "Sab Ban Than Aayi Shyam Pyari". They performed a duet to the iconic lakshan geet, 'Niratata Dhang' depicting the various aspects of the dance of Natwar and Radharani. The thumri malika concluded with a vibrant jhoola and hori.