Wrath Yatra

2A scene from Abhimanyu

When the dancer playing the role of Uttara, wife of the gallant Abhimanyu remembered for his selfless bravery and tragic death in the Mahabharata, descended on the stage at Kamani Auditorium on Friday evening, all eyes were on the other corner of the stage. It's here that Ram Hari, the actor playing Abhimanyu, stood. As the dance drama titled Abhimanyu took the audience into a dream-like state with the help of interesting lighting and background music, Uttara's nightmare involving the removal of Abhimanyu's headgear by his enemies wrenched the heart of the audience, who looked on in pin drop silence. Soon, the next scene showed her pleading with her husband to not go out in the battlefield. But the warrior was not convinced.

Abhimanyu was one of the four productions that was staged as part of the Festival of Ballets organised by Shri Ram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, and included others such as Shree Durga, Karna and Meera. Out of the three sub-branches of Chhau, which includes Seraikella Chhau from Jharkhand, Purulia Chhau from Purulia in West Bengal and Mayurbhanj Chhau from Mayurbhanj in Odisha, the ballet incorporated the third and the more interesting form.

The hour-and-a-half-long production was directed by Shobha Deepak Singh and choreographed by Shashidharan Nair. In the performance, enigmatic dancers, with their manes flowing, could be seen throwing swords and bows into the air with their faces full of rage and anger as Arjuna's son, Abhimanyu, tried to break through the chakravyuh, an impenetrable war formation of the Kauravas. Playing the characters of the Pandavas and Kauravas, the dancers moved their bodies at an alarming speed and displayed aggressive footwork and movements, which could be heard with loud thuds when their feet landed on the ground. When Hari leapt into the air like a feather and spun around the stage several times in circles, the audience couldn't help but raise a huge applause for the lead character.

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