Subtle emotions in motion

Touching Portrayal: A dance-drama, Chandalika, written by Tagore, was recently performed in the City

The sentiments of a young girl, rejected by the society and ostracised by her peers, were brought out beautifully by Sharmila Mukherjee and her team through Chandalika, a dance-drama written by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

The show was held at ADA Rangamandira recently and the hall was packed.

Chandalika revolves around Prakriti, who belongs to the so-called lower caste and often curses her mother for bringing her into the world. Insulted and demeaned all the time, she sulks in a corner while drawing water, when an exhausted Buddhist monk stops and asks her for water.

She explains that she will not be able to oblige due to her social position. The monk, however, enlightens her about the fact that caste and creed do not exist. Prakriti is smitten by the monk and asks her mother to use her magical powers and make the monk fall in love with her. Despite the best efforts of her mother, the monk’s faith and dedication could not be moved and she gives up, cursing her fate.

The main characters, played by Sharmila and one of her students, brought out the true essence of the complex characters that Tagore had created for the dance-drama. The transformation from a distressed person, who has been rejected by the society, to that of one who is infatuated and is graceful is noteworthy. The use of lights was commendable. What really kept one glued to the seats were the beautiful expressions. Whether it was of dejection or joy, it was showcased gracefully by the dancers.

The climax was when Prakriti’s mother calls her friends to use her magical powers on the monk. Though this was powerful, much was left wanting. However, the costumes were very natural and bright. The difference between the social strata was brought out even through the clothes. While the other dancers wore typical odissi costumes, the two main characters were dressed in tribal wear. The synchronised steps and the seamless flow of the dance-drama was quite appealing.

“I liked the fact that they retained the originality of the dance-drama written by Tagore. There are very few shows based on the original work. Artistes prefer to add their own touch in most of the dance-dramas. I enjoyed watching this show,” says Prakash, who had come to watch the show. The show ended with the audience applauding the team for a great performance. It was one of the few dance-dramas which portrayed the pathos of a young woman.

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