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Cloud Messenger, a revelation to the audience
CHENNAI: Meghadootham, the immortal poem composed by poet Kalidasa in the 5th century, was premiered at The Music Academy in Chennai on 26 & 27, July, 2014. A group of skillful dancers brought out to the audience in an exotic way the communication carried by the Cloud Messenger. Poet Kalidasa was known for his imagination and usages of Upama alankaras or similes to enhance the beauty of the poetry and lyrical language. Professor Revathi of Madras University must have had in her mind the yearnings to reach out to the masses the message and beauty of the cloud message (Meghadootham) poetry while agreeing to associate with the venture. She carefully and passionately selected the Sanskrit verses for the dancers and musicians among the 111 verses of the poetry. It was a dedicated and hardworking team - from mentor to dancers and musicians.

Careful choice
It was not an easy task to portray the cloud messenger so skillfully if the music was not there. Also, the Sanskrit verses had to be understood well to express. Dr. Revathy played a vital role in explaining each and every verse to be performed by the artistes. Bombay Jayashri Ramnath must be complimented for composing incredible music for the operatic dance-ballet, Meghadootham. AIM for SEVA, founded by Dayananda Sarawathi Swami, played a crucial role in making the Meghadootham a mega success. CCA (Cleveland Cultural Alliance), headed by Uma Ganeshan, did the production. The operatic dance-ballet was conceived, scripted and choreographed by Shijith Nambiar and Parvathi Menon. It is a script adaptation from actual Meghadootham by Kalidasa. Shijith himself performed and sent the audience into a trance with his catchy expression and nimble dance. He was high on energy, and brought the poetry of Kalidasa alive. The English narrative by Baradwaj Rangan and the voice-overs certainly helped to appreciate better the subtle nuances of Sanskrit verses. All the same, they also helped to enhance the dramatic appeal. Thanks to elegant costumes designed by Lakshmi Srinath, mood changes due to metamorphosis in climate were portrayed with effortless ease. It acquired the contemporary twist with the supple dance structure, luminous lighting and background.

The operatic dance-ballet got an elevation as the instrumentalists played the ever-beautiful Mohanam to a perfect rendition of “Tvam Arudam Pavana Padavim” by Sathyaprakash as two dancers gave eloquent expression to the verses of Kalidasa describing the happiness of wives of men travelling abroad. In this instance, however, the Yaksha was banished from his wife Yakshi, and, hence, was feeling terribly sad. The essence of the poetry is that a cloud is sent as a messenger to his beloved wife by the yaksha, who is banished by the divine Kubera of Alakapuri to Ramagiri for a year for dereliction of duty. Unable to bear the separation from his wife, the Yaksha finds himself totally lost. Away from Alaka, the Yaksha takes refuge in the hermitage near Ramagiri. And, here the verse is given expression as “Kaschit Kantha Virahaguruna” in Chandrakounse raga. After months, one day he sees the cloud. He seeks out to it and addresses it as “Dumajyothir Sallilamarutham”. He urges it to carry the message of love to his beloved in the verse “Sapthatanam Tvamasi Saranam”. Yaksha describes the route from Ramagiri to Alaka and the beauty of the nature.

Yaksha asks the cloud not to miss the city of Ujjain, and wants it to spend a night at Chandishwar temple where Lord Shiva is prostrated. From Ramagiri in Central India to Alakapuri, situated on Mount Kailash in Himalayan Mountains, the Cloud Messenger travels with Yaksha’s love notes to his beloved.

It was a fascinating portrayal of the travel as the Cloud Messenger encounters creepers, squirrels and the river Mandakini on the way. Kalidasa’s verses give a descriptive sketch of the scenes. Dancers comprising Bhavajan Kumar , Pavithra Srinivasan, Aarabhi Badri, Sudharma Vaidyanthan , Sharanya Varma, Bhagyalakshmi, Season Unnikrishnan, and K. M. Jayakrishnan performed with felicity and vibrancy. In“Mandkinyah Salilashikararir”, the slender and lovely dancers bring the beauty of the banks of river Mandakini.

Tears roll down
As a sad-stricken Yakshi rues her fate, Bombay Jayashri renders ``Utsange Va Malinavasane Sowmya Nikshipya Vinam” in raga Karnaranjani with lilting melody. Yakshi plays the divine Veena but forgets what she plays. As the tears roll down, the strings turn wet. In contrast, the Yaksha feels a sense of emptiness. For him, nothing is comparable to his beloved wife, even as in the verse “Shyamasvangam” he tries to see her body in Priyangu creepers, her face in the moon, her hair in the plumage of the peacock, or her eyebrows in the gentle ripples of the river.

Finally in Alakapuri, the Kinnaras and Yakshas dance with joy. There is heavy thunder and rainfall. Yakshi is frightened. But she feels a sense of happiness and excitement, and the cloud messenger and the Yaksha appear from nowhere. Lord of Alaka removes the curse, understanding the plight of the Yaksha. Yaksha and Yakshi are blessed with ceaseless joy to lead an everlasting life. It’s a melodrama, and there is complete harmony all along.

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