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Malavika Sarukkai plays Ganga to perfection
Nattai wafted through the air as we entered the Sivagami Pethachi Auditorium for Malavika Sarukkai's concert, held under the banner of the Bhrahma Gana Sabha on Christmas day (December 25, 2008). The concert was delayed by almost half an hour. What awaited us, however, made us forget the wait outside the auditorium.

Malavika Sarukkai presented "Ganga Nrithya Vauhini'', a presentation on the river Ganga.

She was Ganga personified. Strong and erratic like the ganges during floods, and graceful and subtle after being mellowed by the rocky terrain, Malavika brought on stage Ganga in her truest of form.

She started with a piece from the Ganga Sthothram, where she showed the journey of ganges through the dense jata of Lord Shiva. The choreography was laudable. Capturing the flow of the river in dance movements is quite difficult. And, the choreographer had done it well. Malavika's training in Odissi was distinctly seen during the portrayal of the Ganges.

This was followed by a piece, "Astham Gatho Ravihi'' (the sun has set). Malavika portrayed three scenarios that take place around Ganga at the time of sunset.The gaiety of the young couple climbing upwards the hill on the promise of the night, the sorrow of a old lady on the loss of her son, and the rituals taking place at the temple were all shown with great variation and emotion. The music for this piece is unforgettable. Kapi filled with romance and Varali with remorse. As Revathy was jiving in ritual beat, Kalyanavasantham lined all the three into perfection.

This was followed by a piece where Ganga herself asks who will remove her shadow and purify her while dawn had already broken out. Based on Raga Subapanduvarali and linked with a boatsman's song calling out to Gangama, this was a expression piece that slowed the pace of the presentation.

Malavika signed off her performance with Mahasangam, the surrender of Ganga to the ocean. Tansen's fifteenth century work was beautifully woven in Raga Devabhukti by Mr. C.V Chandrasekhar. Malavika's footwork needs special mention here, the didithais in usi (offbeat) were beautifully placed, when one least expected it.

The piece glided into an energetic tharana in Poorya Dhanyasi, the beats and the choreography denoting drops of water- so distinct in its style. On the whole the performance was an experience of a kind.

The accompaniments did their job. Murali Parthasarathy, who gave vocal support, is worth mentioning specially for his boatman's song. The conductor of the show undoubtedly was Malavika herself. Clear and confident, she ran the show all alone.

The concert was supported by M S Sukhi (mridangam), Sri Lakshmi (violin) and Leela Sukanya (nattuvangam).
Jayakamala Pandiyan -
Very interesting and informative site. Happy to see that you have started covering Bharathanatyam programmes, too. The review on Malavika Sarukkai's programme brought the programme live for me. Thank you so much.

Madhumitha -
Really excellent! Good work. Keep it up!

Poornima Koppar -
Thanks Nrithya, it was an interesting article, with a full fledged effort made to present the reality of the show at different phases.