7-day fusion music & dance fest to be held in Bengaluru from Jan 20

01:08 PM Jan 19, 2024 | PTI |

It took Odissi exponent Madhulita Mohapatra and Yakshagana guru K Krishnamurthy Tunga almost two months to get their act together. But it was worth it, said the dancers, as they managed to bring the two distinctly different art forms – one a classical and another folk – together to narrate the tale of Savitri, the woman who flipped her destiny with her wit and persistence. ”The love story between Savitri and Satyavan needed the fluid and lyrical movements of Odissi to bring out the tender and loving nature of their relationship. At the same time, the intense and dramatic flair of Yakshagana was just perfect for Lord Yama, with whom Savitiri engages in a game of wit to save her husband from the clutches of death,” said Mohapatra, recipient of Sangeet Natak Akademi’s Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar as well as the Kempegowda Award.


‘An Enchanting Encounter’ will be showcased on January 20, as part of the seven-day Fusion Music and Dance Festival being organised by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and Infosys Foundation. ”The biggest challenge was fitting in the chende – the percussion instrument that is the backbone of a Yakshagana performance, which is also known as chenda in the neighbouring Kerala – into the mix. Madhulita had already set the entire act to music with the help of her guru. But there is no Yakshagana, if there is no chende. So, we had to rework the sound a bit,” said Tunga.

Mohapatra said the music was composed by Bijaya Kumar Jena and the script was written by noted Odia poet, Kedar Mishra. ”Savitri’s story appears as multiple embedded narratives in ‘Vana Parva’ (the Book of the Forest) in ‘Mahabharata.’ It was narrated by sage Markandeya. When the exiled Yudhishthira asks Rishi Markandeya whether there has ever been a woman whose devotion matched Draupadi’s, Markandeya replies by narrating the story of Savitri,” said Mohapatra. While Tunga is accompanied by his daughter, Chithkala K Tunga, Mohapatra will be accompanied by her disciple Sahana R Maiya. Mohapatra said Savitri always fascinated her as she demonstrates qualities traditionally associated with male heroes, challenging societal norms of her time. ”Her unwavering resolve and fearlessness in facing Yama depict a woman capable of facing challenges head-on, breaking free from the conventional damsel-in-distress narrative,” adds Mohapatra.

Tunga, who’s been performing Yakshagana for more than 30 years, said even his life has been a long experimentation and collaborations with Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi and Kathakali dancers were all par for the course.

”I never thought I’d be a professional Yakshagana dancer in the first place. I was the first in my family to start dancing. But because I kept myself open to this possibility, I could reach here today. So, why won’t I be open to collaborating with other art forms,” said Tunga, who is originally from Udupi district.


The fusion festival that showcases ‘An Enchanting Encounter’ is the culmination of cultural outreach programmes organised by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in seven cities across the country through the year, said Sharath BN, programme executive at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. ”You can say it’s a grand finale of sorts held annually in Bengaluru, and it is open to the public for free. This year it is on till January 26 at our newly renovated auditorium,” added Sharath.

The festival will feature out-of-the-box events like bagpiper concert by Jaipur-based brass band, ‘Sand Melody,’ featuring a sand artist and a jugalbandi between flute and trumpet, said Sharath


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