Bharatnatyam Arangetram by Anjana Muraleedaran
by Laya Raghava
The summertime has always been a time I look forward to, with lots of traveling, working towards perfecting my arts, and of course fun amidst it all. This summer was no different, and I was given the good fortune of being able to play the violin for Anjana Muraleedaran’s arangetram in Boston on August 5th. Anjana proudly carried forward the Vazhuvoor Bani of her Guru Preethi Ramesh, Director of Sarasa Natya Academy in Westford Massachusetts, who herself is a disciple of Kalaimamani K.J.Sarasa.
Anjana, or Anju as we all call her, is now a dear friend of mine. Her boundless energy while dancing and her grace instantly left me awestruck. During the arangetram performance I felt that I was able to bounce energy off of her as well as the other musicians. Anju’s hard work and talent showed in the way she masterfully executed each of the pieces.
Anjana began her performance with a sprightly Pushpanjali in Gowlai followed by Vathapi Ganapathim, a devotional Kriti on Lord Ganesha set to the Ragam Hamsadhwani. Both were very energetic pieces involving intricate footwork and expressions.
Next, she continued on with a Jathiswaram in Vasantha composed by the Thanjavur quartet. This was personally one of my favorites, the way Anjana was flawlessly able to perform the syncopated rhythms had me on my toes as I was playing, and I remember that Siva Prasad sir and I exchanged smiles often whenever Anjana got through a difficult jathi or routine. Although Jathiswarams do not contain any lyrics, Anjana was still able to bring out the essence of Vasantha (ragam embodying the spring season) through her beautiful smile and graceful expressions.
Anjana then continued on to perform Rangapura Vihara in the beautiful raga of Brindavana Saranga composed by Sri. Muthuswami Dikshitar. Watching Anjana’s beautiful abhinaya during this piece and the stories she acted out resonated deeply with me as well as the audience.
The next piece was the Varnam, called Angayarkanni, a masterful composition of the legendary violinist Sri. Lalgudi Jayaraman sir. The way she was able to switch between the Navarasas (nine different emotions) with ease during it even with jathis interspersed without even losing an ounce of energy especially continues to stick in my mind.
Following the intermission, Anjana performed Shankara Srigiri in Ragam Hamsanandi where she showcased her knowledge on yet another Hindu deity, lord Shiva, while showcasing his divine dance through a variety of poses and steps.
Theeradha Vilayattu Pillai by Sri. Subramanya Bharati followed this. An audience and fan favorite, Anjana highlighted the mischievousness of Lord Krishna by showcasing many of his antics and pastimes. Rather than seeing Anjana, we all saw Krishna himself on stage being brought alive through her immaculate storytelling.
The final piece was a lovely Thillana in the Ragam Kunthalavarali composed by Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna followed by a Mangalam. This was a fitting finale to the lively evening filled with artistry, Anjana brought her best to the stage to make the ending a successful and uplifting one.
I’m very glad I had the wonderful opportunity to play for her arangetram alongside the live accompaniment of Guru Preethi Ramesh on Nattuvangam, Sivaprasad Namboodiri on Vocals, Dr. Bhavani Shankar on Mridangam, Kumari Apurvasai Lakshmanan on Flute. This will always be an experience I look back upon fondly. I wish Anju the very best in all of her endeavors and hope her dance journey continues for a long time to come!