Kalidas' Kumar Sambhav through dance forms

Kalidas' Kumar Sambhav through dance forms

Kalidas' Kumar Sambhav through dance forms

In a spectacular conclusion to its Summer Ballet Festival 2012, the Shri Ram Bharatiya Kala Kendra presented Kumar Sambhav - an adaptation of the legendary epic-poem by Kalidas, narrating the events leading to the birth of war god Karthikeya.

A well-chosen story, enchanting choreography and music, excellent abhinaya by the artistes and befitting costumes and lighting marked the show. Indeed, chief minister Sheila Dikshit also praised the troupe  for bringing alive the Hindu mythological legend, as did everyone else present at the venue.

Unlike the other productions in this festival, the most beautiful aspect of Kumar Sambhav was that it didn’t restrict itself to any one dance form. Each of the 20 acts in this hour-and-a-half long dance-drama made use of different dances. The show opened with Taraka - the demon with a boon of invincibility, wreaking havoc on earth. The violence and destruction is depicted with Taraka doing a free-form dance and dancers as hapless earthlings in the backdrop. The creative use of lighting here in flaming reds and oranges conveyed the message of devastation well.

After humans appeal to the Gods for redemption, the scene moves to the Himalayas where lord Shiva is meditating. It is Basant - the season of love and dancers portray the same with a beautiful piece of Kathak. Shiva has vowed never to marry again after Sati’s immolation, but his marriage to Parvati is necessary for Karthikeya to be born and Taraka to be killed.  So the Gods send celestial nymphs, who perform Bharatnatyam, to break Shiva’s meditation. When this too fails, the god of love himself - Kamdev and his wife Rati appear on the scene. They depict romance in spring through an Odissi inspired piece following which Kamdev shoots an arrow of love at Shiva and he falls in love with Parvati.

The marriage of Shiva and Parvati is arranged and the former’s consorts - ghosts are seen enjoying with a dance clearly contemporary in its approach. Shiva and Parvati then perform a sensuous dance in creative-fusion style depicting marital bliss between them.
Finally, Karthikeya is born and his training to defeat Taraka begins. Ultimately, Karthikeya meets Taraka in the battlefield and a formidable fight begins portrayed in Chhau dance.
Indeed, the choreographer made the most appropriate choice of dance here as much as in the previous scenes. Finally, with the slaying of Taraka by Karthikeya, the world is rescued and humans rejoice.

The director of Kumar Samvbhav and all the other ballets in this festival, Shobha Deepak Singh, says, “Having done ‘Dance of Shiva’ where Sati immolates herself and Shiva vows to never marry again, it was but obvious that we move on to Kumar Sambhav. It took Himalayan efforts to arrange the right costumes, ornaments and sets to give the production a mythological treatment.” No doubt, the choreographer Bhushan Lakandri- well-known for his work in various Hindi films as well as choreographing actor Hema Malini’s dance shows, has done a commendable job too. He says humbly, “I just wanted that there shouldn’t be a single boring moment in the ballet. It should be full of life, very vibrant.”

Indeed, both the director and choreographer achieved their objectives to a great degree, but the dancer-actors were a let down in places.

Even though the abhinaya was done well, half-dance moves, and ornaments and accessories coming off during the show, marred it to some extent. Hopefully, the next time it is staged, with more training to the dancer-actors, Kumar Sambhav will be the best ballet one would see in a long time.