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Sunil performs ‘the Naayak’ in Kathak

Wednesday, November 07, 2018
By Vijay Shanker

Dr Puru Dadheech is the only Kathak artist in India to have specially written and composed the Naayak Bheda – different types of heroes. Recently the Baitak organised by Piyush Raj's Natanam Studio for Performing Arts in Goregoan, saw a unique and rare gesture of reverence, as dancers in different disciplines paid their tributes to the veteran Kathak maestro in his august presence.

Sunil Sunkara, disciple of Guru Renu Sharma and Pt Birju Maharaj, presented Nayak Bhedas for the first time in Mumbai, which he had learnt in an intensive workshop taken by Dr Dadheech on the subject. He weaved together the compositions with his own imaginative narrative. Natyashastra's 'Dheerodaat Ram' and 'Dheerodatt Raavan' were presented through two compositons – 'Rajasi Vesh Sabhi Dajhke' (Ram threw aside his regal attire with a pleasant smile on his face) and 'Chand Taare Tod Daaru' (I will pluck the stars and moons from the sky and trample them under my feet, says Raavan). The battle between Ram and Raavan was presented by Sunil in the legendary composition by Bindadin Maharaj – 'Shesh Phan Dagmagyo' – the earth trembled as Ram launched arrows from his bow.

In Medieval India, Shringara between the hero-heroine lead to the development of classification of the romantic heroes. One such is the Dhrishta Naayak – the unrepentant hero and the Khandita Naayika – the angry heroine. Sunil presented this in a very colourful and imaginative pattern in a duet with Lavani artist Charushila Golam, co-founder of the Lavani Mahasangh. The popular lavani sung by Asha Bhosale – 'Kutha Tumhi Gela hota sanga Karbhari' ( where did you spend the night?) – was fused with a composition by Dr Dadheech 'Gori Kaheko Raar Machavati Ho' (Why so you create such a ruckus for no reason and doubt me?). Sunil and Charushila received guidance in this first jugalbandi between a male Kathak dancer and female Lavani artist from Kathak exponent Guru Paullumi Mukheerjee and Lavani Samrat Pramod Kandalkar. The duo's performance was quite exciting

The same evening, Riddhi Saraiya and Rajshri Sodha from Jamnagar presented 'Ganesh Dhrupad' and 'Shiv Vandna' composed by Dr Puru Dadheech, followed with the rare Naayika – 'Vartaman Surat Sangopana'. Dr Dadheech was in Mumbai conducting workshop on rare compositions like 'Dashavatar' and 'Dhrupad' in 'Bhrama taal' (28 beats). Dr Dadheech is India's first Kathak dancer to bring back 'Dhrupad' on the formal Kathak stage and this composition in 28 matra. Shankar Pralayankar has the unique status of regularly being sung in concerts by 'Dhrupad' maestros the Gundecha Brothers. Truly an example of how a dancer has enriched the world of music.

The evening reached its climax with a beautiful duet by curator Dr Pyush Raj and Jagruti Murkute who presented 'Niratata Dhang' – an age old composition of the Lucknow Gharana, in a revival of the same choreography performed by the late Bireshwar Gautam.

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