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Hindustani music for Bharat Natyam

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Hindustani music for Bharat Natyam

The Economic Times, April 17, 1988

Sucheta Chapekar Bhide’s composite presentation at Ravindra Natya Mandir, before a distinguished invited audience effectively served to highlight, once again, the immensity and significance of her contribution towards seeking new directions of expression in the sphere of Bharat Natyam through the medium of Hindustani music.

The programme was designed to commemorate Sucheta’s performing career, which has spanned over the last 25 years. The event also marked the inauguration of Kalavardhini Charitable Trust, which she has set up for perpetuating her work through her shishya parampara.

Undestandably, the presentation was compact and brief, but thoughtfully divided into two parts, each featuring six items before and after the interval. Presentation of King Sarfoji of Tanjavur’s Marathi compositions and King Shahaji’s darus and pads formed the first part. Excerpts form “Nritya-Ganga”, which is based on Hindustani ragas and styles of singing, covered the post-interval fare. The artiste was ably assisted by her team of talented and dedicated disciples, who included Smita, Jyostna, Prasanna, Aparna, Vrinda, Sonal and Neelima.

It is pretty difficult to attempt a summation of a programme like this without running the risk of repetition of what has been said many times before. Suffice to say, therefore, that Sucheta, who has received unstinted, though belated, recognition from the traditional world, has proved to be a danseuse who seldom disappoints. The recognition of her talent from a celebrated institution like the Music Academy of Madras comes as an emphatic vindication of the value of her contribution.

Indeed, Sucheta has ample talent and fecund imagination. Coupled with these is her fine stage presence and her uncanny knack for verbal communication of her ideas which she does with impeccable diction and delivery. All this makes her numbers bloom with a new glow. Be it hastas, angashuddham or footwork – all these were, as always, marked by rare grace, precision, poise and polish.

Of special interst was a complex talamalika number, specially choreographed by Sucheta and presented by her disciples for this event. Praise is speciallydue to Smita and Meenal who, respectively, provided the nattuvangam and vocal support in the two sections. Other accompanists featured in the respective part of the programme aligned their roles perfectly.

Sucheta’s venture in attempting to blend Bharat Natyam and Hindustani music predictably met with considerable resentment and resistance from purists from both the paramparas. If her quest has been long and arduous, it has also proved richly rewarding. Indeed, she deserves acclamation as the pioneer who could succeed so resoundingly in achieving such a difficult feat and, that too, without vitiating the authenticity of the two paramparas, in the least.

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