NEW DELHI: Bharatanatyam dancer Geeta Chandran on Saturday showcased her latest work 'Simhika: Daughter of the Forest', described as "a tale of vengeance and revenge" set during the events of the Mahabharata.
Held at the India Habitat Centre's Stein Auditorium here, the presentation revolved around Simhika, a fictional character created for a Kathakali dance-theatre performance written by Kottayam Thampuran. In the original play 'Kirmira Vadham', the Kathakali narrative explores Simhika's story vividly painting her as a demoness.
According to a press release, in her presentation, Chandran imbues the character with voice and agency, unveiling the thoughts and conflicts in the protagonist through the process of 'anavarna', a technique in Bharatanatyam 'abhinaya', where layer after layer is peeled to reveal subtle truths.
In the hour-long performance dialogue, situated in a theatrical set that resonates with the jungle setting, Chandran plays a multi-layered role of a woman, a wife, a nurturer, and a daughter of the forest who becomes a victim of circumstance.
'Simhika', a forest maiden completely in sync with her environment, is cruelly widowed when the Pandavas, during their exile in the forest, kill her husband, Shardula. Her sorrow soon morphs to revenge and Simhika transforms herself into a beautiful maiden" but with poison in her heart, and tries to trick Draupadi (wife of the Pandavas) into the forest with the aim of killing her."
"But here, the forest that has nurtured her gives her away, and Draupadi cries for help. Her husband Sahadeva arrives and brutally defaces Simhika's body by chopping off her breasts. Simhika laments the injustices heaped on her, and this forms the theatrical focus of Geeta's powerful performance dialogue," read the synopsis of the stage production.
Jugal Kishore Sharma and his team of traditional flower decorators from Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, crafted the set of the show with the script adapted from Thampuran's original by Chandran. It was rendered in Sanskrit by A R Sreekrishnan.
The music for 'Simhika' was developed collectively by the dancer, vocalist K Venkateshwaran and percussionist Manohar Balatchandirane. The protagonist's costume was created by Sandhya Raman.(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)