Malayali duo enthral audience with nuanced Odissi

Bharatam Entertainments hosts live art performances every week to encourage artistes

Dance-lovers of Kerala were treated to a surprise Odissi performance by two Malayali women on Saturday evening. Mini Somakumar and Srudhi Ratheesh, currently living in Bangaluru, displayed their Odissi skills at Irinjalakuda, their native place, taking audiences to the nuances of the classical dance form.

Thanks to Bharatam Entertainments, an Irinjalakuda-based forum for the promotion performing arts, the artistes kindled the love for classical dances, particularly Odissi, among Malayali audience. Ms. Mini began the show with a Devi Stuti praising Goddess Durga, dancing to a choreography set by Odissi exponents Gangadhar Pradhan and Aruna Mohanty. She then moved on to Vasanta Pallavi, a pure dance form choreographed by Kelucharan Mohapatra. She showed distinct poses and postures of Odissi through her solo. Then came the duet ‘Braja Juba Raja’, the most appealing segment of the show, with Ms. Srudhi. Choreographed by their teacher Madhulita Mohapatra and music given by Binod Bihari Panda, ‘Braja Juba Raja’ described Krishna’s beauty as Prince Charming through Odiya Abhinay.

Growing popularity

“Odissi has been growing in popularity in Kerala and is well received by Malayalis. The show by Mini and Srudhi was beautifully executed. I thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Meenakshi Menon, a young IT professional from Palakkad working in Bangaluru. Ms. Mini said that although they had performed in Thrissur before, performing in her native Irinjalakuda was a dream come true for her.

Many in their village never knew they were into Odissi. “We can bring any artistes from any places. But getting our own native artistes to perform in our neighbourhood is something more fulfilling,” said Bhasiraj A.P., promoter of Bharatam Entertainments. Mr. Bhasiraj said they were organising art performances every Saturday as part of encouraging artistes. “Because of COVID-19, we have many limitations. Still we are not doing any recorded programmes. The live shows we do have an excellent response from audiences,” he said.

Students of Nrityantar Academy of Performing Arts, Bangaluru, Ms. Mini and Ms. Srudhi have been learning Odissi for several years. “Our families are giving a lot of support to us. We owe a great deal to our husbands for encouraging us to take up and practice this beautiful dance form,” they said.

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