118 years of trust

Chandigarh, Friday, September 4, 1998
 

 

The maze of Maya's temple by Sonoo Singh

Pandava temple in neglect by Ramesh K. Dhiman

Rathod duo disappoints. The column Audioscan by ASC.

Antique image by D.C. Sharma





 

The maze of Maya’s world

By Sonoo Singh

JUST as realistic painting declined when photographs began to achieve similar effects mechanically, so did staging that attempted to reproduce the actual when such effects became commonplace in films, thus giving way to the extravagant, symbolist and surrealist effects to theatre. And this is where the likes of Maya Krishna Rao step in — a magnificent melange of a theatre person, a Kathakali dancer and a teacher.

Daughter of Bharatanatyam dancer, Bhanumati Rao, Maya went through the quintessential phase of learning to dance at home, followed by a Kathakali school, and then street theatre in college, which finally landed her into choreography and doing theatre with children and teaching. Recently in Chandigarh, to perform at the close of 50 years celebrations of independent India, Maya dazzled the audience with her theatre workshop with city artistes and later with her production "The 4-Wheel Drive Come to Me Mr Sharma Body Fat Murdered Show".

"My process of work is to do very much with going into a trance myself. So if there is an element of the ‘unconventional’, then it’s not because I sit and think of images beforehand.

For me, if there’s something that’s started with my own benefits and with my own thoughts, then it does strike a chord somewhere. I’m not out to shock, because the job of an actor is to be able to imagine and to carry out the imagination with total belief", Maya says while defending the "lavishly unrestrained" streak that one associates with her.

Maya Rao’s workshop with the Chandigarh artistes, out of which finally emerged some intense yet delicate scenes on the theme of Partition, without having a prepared text was more of body-art-workshop, where the actors were seen to unlock their bodies into delightful movements as a result of unleashing their wildest imaginations!

Maya adds, " The aim of the workshop was to find the potential of the bodies and how to put the body and the mind together. Also, in case of a readymade text one tends to short-circuit the course of organically trying to build it. I was interested in the artistes in not only making them realise that they need training, but also to enable them to find artistic expression within themselves".

Clearly a case of child’s play — where the world is made up not only of children themselves but also of animated objects, plants and grammatical and mathematical abstractions; toys, dolls and puppets; supernatural and fantasy figures; creatures of fairy tale, myth and legend; and adults as seen through the child’s eyes.

Agreeing that both as a teacher and a mother of a 10-year-old daughter, Mimansa, she has found working with children the most challenging she remarks, "Children are so far away from us. It’s really fascinating to see that they are human like us, but they are totally in some other planet. We, the grownups, have lost the business of doing theatre as if it were life. It’s sadly the other way round for us.

"Mimansa is now in my production ‘The 4-Wheel Drive....,’ but she has never really acted before, believing theatre to be some kind of mother’s obsession! But since this show is not really ‘constructed’ of sorts she happened to be a part of it".

But what kind of a variance does her being a Kathakali dancer and then graduating into ‘modern-contemporary’ theatre serve? Kathakali, which involves rigorous training in body movements and make-up and ‘modern-contemporary’ theatre, which is somewhere between play and dance and has a dash of drama in it?

"Today we are living in very complex times, which does not allow us to go in for simple solutions anymore. Even when we import a style or a song it will not make it to ‘top 10’ unless we sort of Indianise it through our own processes.

"For me, Kathakali is food and sustenance, something that gives me a high! And as a performer I don’t segregate these two, because I work with my body and see all that it creates and then see how that influences my inner self. For me a bed with a white sheet on could mean an Eskimo territory. For you something different", concluded Maya.

How about looking at a bed and imagining it to be a pool of sharks ready to devour you up? Is that the way to Maya’s world?Top

 

Pandava temple in neglect

By Ramesh K. Dhiman

HIMACHAL Pradesh, also called the "abode of gods," has been a dream-come-true destination for nature lovers and seekers of solitude since times immemorial.

Among a host of lesser-known temples dotting the sprawling Kangra valley, the ancient Shiva temple at Chamukha in Dehra subdivision of Kangra district is worth mentioning.

Nestling on the bank of the raging Beas, with the swaying grooves of mango trees offering a perfect backdrop, the temple is believed to be dating back to the Pandava era. The huge peepul tree under which it is located is also believed to be as old as the temple.

According to a popular legend, the site, where the temple bhavan stands, was an island inhabited by demons. The demons had made the lives of a group of sadhus living in the vicinity a virtual hell. During their "agyatvas", the Pandavas strayed into the the virgin woods of Chamukha. They too fell prey to the demons’ savage behaviour.

Sick at the maltreatment meted out to them, they prayed to Lord Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu led them to Lord Shiva, who offered to help them by eliminating the demons. Lord Shiva directed Arjuna to strike four arrows from his bow in the direction where the demons lived. The four arrows that Arjuna struck killed the demon kings, while the others had a miraculous escape. Undeterred, they kept on pestering the Pandavas and the sadhus on the sly to evade Lord Shiva’s wrath.

Lord Shiva then assumed four heads and asked Arjuna again to hurl three "golas" (stones) in the same direction. The "golas" fell somewhere near the temple. Panicking at the loud thud, they fled to Dant Balhar, half a km away from the temple on the Khairan Khud, where they all perished. The two rock images of the demon kings here are a pointer to their Chamukha connections.

Sedately perched on a 40-kanal piece of land on the Kaloha-Nadaun road, the Chamukha temple is 10 km short of Nadaun, the place fabled for bounty and beauty; 4 km from Kaleshwar, also called the "other Hardwar"; Panjteerathi, a confluence of five rivers; 22 and 23 km, respectively, from Jwalamukhi, the goddess with a flaming mouth and Chintpurni, where the devouts’ wishes are granted.

The ancient temple has in its vicinity four life-sized images of Nandi, the traditional mount of Lord Shiva, and samadhis of some unknown mahants of the temple. The arrows hurled by Arjuna lie half-buried in the ground near the temple. The front temple wall has the images of various deities depicted in different postures.

The four-mouthed marble image of Lord Shiva, after which the temple was named, forms the sanctum sanctorum. At the entrance of the temple, there is a minuscule Shivalinga.

The image of Bhairo, depicted in his traditional posture, is engraved on the front temple wall. The temple had originally four doors, out of which three have been permanently closed.

A large number of stone images of local and other deities, said to be excavated from the temple site, lie littered around the temple. Among them lie the partially disfigured image of Chonta Mata, a local goddess. A small temple is devoted to "Guga Chhatri", a powerful serpent god.

During a chance visit to this lesser known Shiva temple, one may plan a pleasure trip to Dharamshala, piece-de-resistance of the Kangra valley; Palampur, a jewel of the Kangra valley dotted with gorgeous, green tea gardens, miles upon miles, with the magnificent Dhauladhars standing guard against the vast horizon.

And, of course, Baijnath, where the demon king Ravana is believed to have supplicated the boon of immortality from Lord Shiva. The imposing Shiva temple here stands a witness to it.

It is a matter of concern that the temple is in a state of utter neglect. The condition of the "katcha" houses serving as residence of the temple pujari and serai are dilapidated beyond repairs. The crumbled slate-roofed houses speak volumes for their poor upkeep. A light drizzle and the rain water gains entry into them.

This calls for immediate care on the part of the state government and the Archaeological Survey of India.
Top

 
  Audioscan

Rathod duo disappoints

MITWA (Venus Deluxe; Rs 55): During the past few years, the singer couple Sonali and Roopkumar Rathod has made tremendous strides. Their albums, "Parwaaz" and "Bemisaal", were well received. Naturally, one has come to expect a lot from them. It is unfortunate that they disappoint in their latest offering. The silken quality is just not there. Sonali is particularly found wanting in the solos that she sings here. There is a bit of arbitrariness about the songs like Ladakiyan samajhti hain …. Roopkumar too is not in his element.

But the main problem lies with the lyrics. They happen to be consistently ordinary although each of the eight songs has been penned by a different author. So we have here Israr Ansari, Panchhi Jalaunvi, Rahat Indori, Tahir Tarash, Madan Pal, Anjum Rahbar, Qateel Shifai and Ekhlas.

Music of six of these eight romantic songs is by Rathod himself while Ali Ghani and Arjun Daswani have composed one each. On that score, there are no complaints but due to inane singing and mediocre lyrics, the cassette refuses to leave its mark.

The decorative cover gives the impression that it is a set of two cassettes, but actually there is only one, with some space being taken by the pen which comes with it.

KUCH KUCH HOTA HAI (Sony Music; Rs 45): This is the first Hindi film soundtrack launched by Sony Music and the promotional blitz is exceptionally sleek. How one wishes the music of the prestigious cassette was equally outstanding. It is good no doubt, but exceptional it is not.

Jatin Lalit’s score is syrupy and that is about all. The same can be said about the lyrics of Sameer. The songs are a mix of romantic, sentimental and dance folk.

The title song is in two versions. The "happy" one is in the voice of Alka Yagnik and Udit Narayan, while the sad one has been rendered by Alka alone. The background score is good here.

The song Tujhe yaad na meri aayee… gives a chance to a new singer, Manpreet Akhtar, along with Alka Yagnik and Udit Narayan. Sajanji ghar aaye … (Alka Yagnik, Kavita Krishnamurthy and Kumar Sanu ) is a typical "shaadi" song.

The one notable point about the cassette is that it has brought modernity to the bhajan Raghupati Raghav Rajaram…. It has been sung by Shankar Mahadevan and Alka Yagnik.

The album may have a fairly good run, but it is not in the same league as "Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge" and "Khamoshi", which catapulted Jatin-Lalit.

WOH JAAM PILA (Magna-sound; Rs 60): There is a new star on the ghazal horizon. After the ghazal series "Ras Barse" with such established names like Mehdi Hasan, Ghulam Ali and Pankaj Udhas on Zee TV, and "Phir Bhi" with Magnasound, he has cut this next individual cassette. There are some rough edges which are but natural in someone who is just on first base but he shows promise.

There are eight ghazals and he has rendered them all competently. Four of these are written by Shaam Allahabadi while Veer Kumar Adheer, Dr Bashir Badr, Moolchand Bairagi and Shyam Banerjee have penned one each. Badr’s Jaate ho to le jao… is perhaps the most accomplished of the lot. Music has been directed by Jawahar Wattal.

Here is a singer whom we may be hearing quite often in the days to come.

***

Dil jalta hai to jalne de…, the song that we referred to in the review of the film "Dil Se" in the previous edition of Audioscan, was sung by the late Mukesh.
Top

Antique image

By D.C. Sharma

PRESENTLY preserved in Kangra Art Museum at Dharamsala, a peerless antique image of Lord Ganesha is an immediate attraction for tourists and scholars alike.

The Sayyid Dyanesty in Delhi has been diminishing day by day in the first half of the 15th century. As a result, the works of Hindu art were being encouraged in the Kangra region.

This rare image of Lord Ganesha brought from Ranital (17 km from Kangra) has been minutely yet carefully sculptured in the first half of the 15th century. Every part Ganesha’s body, his feelings and passions seem to be alive and vibrant in this piece of solid rock stone.

This one piece image, engraved on a rough, somewhat round stone, is simply superb. Sitting in a semi-meditational pose, Ganesha seems to be absorbed in prayer. Supported by a stone slab behind his back, Ganesha’s body stands erect at 90. His elephant-face, strong thighs, healthy calves, sturdy feet, and robust shoulders are all engraved in lifelike size on the rough but solid stone.

The recent red colouring given to the image is an artificial touch. The attraction, actually, doesn’t lie in this false colouring but in the artistic grandeur behind this antique unique sculpture.Top

Home Image Map