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A lucid recital by Neeraja Sreenivasan
Neeraja Sreenivasan performed under the auspices of the Parthasarathy Swami Sabha on the eve of Sivarathri at the Sivagami Pethachi Auditorium in Chennai on February 13, 2010. Dressed in vibrant hues of red, orange and gold, Neeraja had decided to perform Oothukadu Venkatasubbier's compositions for the evening. She staged a dramatic entry with the invocation piece, " Sri Vignarajam Bhaje" in Gambheeranattai (kanda chapu). The sancharis were relevant to the lyrics and neatly depicted. Neeraja showed knack in changing postures, swirling from one beautiful posture to another. There seemed to be some influences of " BharathaNrithyam", though Neeraja actually belongs to Dandayuthapani Pillai's school of dance. She went on to do " Marakathamanimaya Chela" in Aarabhi, a famous composition used regularly in the kuchipudi repertoire. She started off by describing Krishna's beauty. Every single word of the lyric was explained in detail. For the line, "Mamaa hridaya kamala niranthara .. Jagannaatha .." , Neeraja went on to describe Jagannatha as the ten avatharas of Vishnu. The signature step that followed an arudhi-like sequence after every paragraph was very well done. Neeraja's main piece for the evening was Kalyana Rama in Hamsanaadham. She utilised both time and space effectively to depict incidents from Ramayana. The way Sita looked at Rama as he broke the bow was shown with shy eloquence. Bharathas joy on Ramas return was also depicted quite effectively. Neeraja followed up with " Sendru Vaa Radha" in ragamalika, where the sakhi tells Radha , who is ensnared in Krishna's web, to go meet him and come back quickly, for Krishna and his words cannot be believed. The transition to ragam Vasantha was done with flair by G. Srikanth on the vocals. He gave promising support throughout the concert.The thillana in Surutti, a piece that is not in the usual format of a thillana (a feature in many Oothukadu's compositions where there is effective usage of sollu kattu and lyrics like poetry) showed Krishna in complete flamboyance. The dancer had a good rapport with the orchestra, though it got overboard when she got into enjoying the music too much in the flow. The concert also had Renjith Babu on the nattuvangam, who did a good job except for a tiny miss in the first jathi of Kalyana Rama. Ramesh Babu on the mridangam did his job well. Rijesh on violin needs special mention for the way he provided able support. Neeraja definitely proved to be a dancer who knows her stuff and strategies. She showed moments of sheer lucidity and excellence, but there were times when the expression on her face showed wariness. The abhinaya could be more canalized though she proved her mettle quite effectively.