The agony and ecstasy of Chitrangada

In every woman’s life there comes a time when she must choose between what people want her to do and what her true identity is.

Chitrangada, a character from Mahabharata and one of Arjuna’s wives, was plucked from the Indian biopic and expanded upon by the Bengali polymath, Rabridanath Tagore, who turned the princess warrior’s beautiful story into a dance drama.

Gandharvi, on Friday presented a dance drama Chitrangada - A Wishful Desire  influenced by Tagore and inspired by Rituparno Gosh’s film, but treated differently by Shukla Banerjee.

Tagore’s Chitrangada was an amazon warrior, on a quest to discover her gender identity, which is still a contemporary issue. “Wishful Desire was scripted to depict Chitrangada’s conflict in the context of feminism from three distinct states of Feminism, Feminist and Female. The dichotomy leads her to re-discover her real self through a journey of wishful desires and deciding against any transformation to eventually settle back into her former self,” reads the brochure distributed at the venue.

The dance drama was more than successful in depicting Chitrangada’s dilemma. The stage first depicted the warrior princess talking to a graceful and beautifully clad woman, which is her imagination, contemplating about how she would have to have a woman’s beauty and charm to attract a man. Then Maya, looking equally enthralling, grants the princess beauty and Chitrangada is able to attract Arjuna’s attention. However, she soon grows tired of it and feels sorrowful upon losing her identity. Maya gives her a choice –to either choose between beauty or her own identity as a warrior. Chitrangada chooses her identity and dances in victorious glory upon reclaiming her fiery former self again.

The dancers were all graceful; the mudras, steps and poses synchronised to perfection. The dresses were also bright and beautiful. Shatarupa, a member of the audience said, “the performance was absolutely enthralling and fascinating in all its grace.”

Afterwards, Gandharvi presented Giti Mallya - a selection of poems and songs from Rabrindranath Tagore’s collection. The collection covers different and varying themes based on Upanishad, Vedas, Buddhism, Vaishnavism, Baul, nature and patriotism. The launch of the two CDs –Bondhu Hey Amaar and Tomar Biswa Chhobi by Bishaka and Mihir Basu drew an enthusiastic response from the audience and the respective chief guests.

 Bijan Mukherjee, Jayanta Ghoshal and Indian Air Force Marshall Shobhik Rao graced the occasion. Mukherjee said “Mihir and Bishaka were local artistes at one time, and look where they are now.” The occasion ended with Mihir and Bishaka belting out songs from the CDs in their melodious voices, enchanting the audience. Had Tagore been alive today, the maestro would have been proud of people’s enthusiasm towards promoting the evergreen Indian culture.

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