background image

a fruit and trying to cap-

ture it but Rahu covers 

it.

Hanuman manages to 

remove Rahu and swal-

low the Sun,whereby 

Indra strikes Hanuman 

and he falls on the floor 

unconscious. Vayu  res-

cues him.

The orchestra sings 

Hanumana, Hanumana, 

Hanumana holding one 

spellbound. 

Divided into four acts 

with an intermission of 

20 minutes, this work of 

two hours is fast-paced. 

Act three depicts Hanuman 

seeing Lanka, its towering pal-

aces piercing the clouds, celestial 

nymphs dancing there as servants, 

and then locating Sita. 

She reminisces of her wedding 

with Lord Rama and separation 

from him, and makes up her mind 

to hang herself with her long braid 

on a branch of tree. 

Sita shares with Hanuman how 

she was enticed by a golden deer 

and Ravana kidnapped her, how 

Jatayu attempted to save her. 

The splendorous court scene of 

Ravana, with court dancers and 

Ravana playing the veena, Indrajit 

capturing Hanuman and setting his 

tail on fire and Hanuman with his 

tail burning down Lanka are visu-

als and dancing of extreme virtu-

osity that take our breath away.

When Lakshmana is wounded 

in battle with Indrajit, Hanuman 

brings the mountain with the San-

jivini plant flying across the sky 

and the great battle with Ravana 

creates hypnotic visuals leaving 

Mesmerising show

A treat for the eyes... scenes from 

Anjaneyam. 

PHO

T

OS:

 APSARAS AR

TS

Mega dance-drama Anjaneyam — Hanuman’s Ramayana stood out 

with stunning visuals, exquisite dancing and excellent story-telling

SUNIL KOTHARI

K

ALAA Utsavam 2017 

kicked off  with Anjaneyam 

— Hanuman’s Ramayana, 

a dance drama co-produced by 

the Esplanade and Apsaras Arts. It 

marked the Esplanade turning 15 

and Apsaras Arts  turning  40. 

Conceived, scripted and directed 

by scholar, choreographer and mu-

sician Aravinth Kumarasamy, the 

production drew from various Ra-

mayana traditions. and featured Ja-

vanese dancers, Indian guest danc-

ers from Kalakshetra, Chennai, 

who, along with Singaporean danc-

ers put up a great performance.

The guest appearance of two leg-

endary dancers, V.P. Dhananjayan 

as Valmiki and C.K. Balagopal as 

old Hanumana was quite an artis-

tic coup. 

The music by Dr Rajkumar 

Bharathi and his team of musicians 

merged in a seamless manner with 

the Gamelan Javanese and Singa-

pore music.

The stunning visuals by Himan-

shu Gosh, lighting by GyanDev 

Singh and 3D quadraphonic sur-

round sound by ace sound record-

ist-musician Sai Sharvanam and 

the amazing marriage of imagina-

tive dance and technology offered 

an excellent aesthetic experience.

There may, arguably, be no other 

text in known history, that has had 

as pervasive and powerful an influ-

ence over the cultures of more dis-

tinctly different and diverse people 

as the Ramayana. 

We see Valimiki in his twilight 

years going to the Himalayas to 

spend the rest of his life and stum-

bling upon the Ramayana written 

on stone by Hanuman.

And so starts our journey with 

Hanuman’s magnificent Ramaya-

na. 

Carefully editing and selecting 

from Valmiki, Tulasidasa,  Kamban 

and Kakawin Javanese Ramayana, 

the script writer waves a magic 

wand and transports us to the 

beautiful city of Ayodhya. 

Split scenes show Ayodhya and 

the forest where Anjana begs Lord 

Shiva to give her a son who would 

release her from a curse.

We see a bird flying with a por-

tion of pudding from the Yagna, 

dropping it in the hands of Anjana. 

Vayu Devata helps her conceive 

the child Hanuman, Anjana’s son- 

hence Anjaneyam.

Then it is back to Ayodhya,where 

the child Rama is taking baby steps 

to Tulasidasa’s Thumki  Chalat 

Ramachandra. There is Hanuman 

growing up, mistaking the Sun for 

one glued to one’s seat, completely 

mesmerised.

The synthesis of Javanese, and 

Indian costumes, the crowns, jew-

els and dresses of apsaras, Ravana’s 

royal robes and Hanuman’s crown 

were all visually impressive. As was 

the choreography of Jayanti Subra-

maniam from Chennai, and others.

The performances of Haripad-

man from Kalakshetra, Javanese 

dancer Osman Abdul Hamid as 

Ravana, Lavanya Ananth as Sita, 

Mohanapriyan as Indrajit, Rosh-

ni as Anjana, Vikas as Rama and 

Geethanathan as Lakshamana and 

Prem Sagar as Dasharatha left in-

delible impressions.

And what can one say about 

the superb music by Rajkumar 

Bharathi? 

The ragas ring in one’s ears and 

one leaves humming the chant of 

Shri Ram Jay Ram and Hanuman. 

The subtitles were well worded 

and brief.

Valmiki in the end meets Hanu-

man, praising his Ramayana as su-

perior. 

But Hanuman throws it away in 

the ocean saying Valimki’s is the 

best.

Dhananjayan and Balagopal, 

who are in their 70s, were appear-

ing together after about 50 years, 

and it was an emotional moment.

With the curtain call of more 

than 100 artists and backstage 

workers, the mesmerised audience 

gave them a standing ovation.

It was indeed a moment of grati-

tude, as Aravinth Kumarasamy 

expressed, to the dance pioneers 

S.Sathyalingam and Neila Sathya-

lingam  of Apsaras. 

➥ 

tabla@sph.com.sg

Page 10

December 1, 2017

tabla

!

 

SINGAPORE