However many times I have gone to the Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre to watch a performance, I’ve realised that the seats never get full, unless of course you have a large fan following. Is it because the performances at the IHC are not ticketed? I often wonder…
Last Friday, 4th August 2017, I went to the India Habitat Centre to watch Talaash – e – Haqq by Jayashree Acharya. Initially it looked like a very small turnout, however soon the auditorium lit up as Pt. Birju Maharaj Ji and Ms. Saswati Sen made their way to the front seating. Suddenly the hall seemed all charged up and the audience raring to go. The number somehow didn’t matter now. The inauguration candle was lit by Maharaj Ji himself along with the musicians of the day and Ms. Acharya.
Working all these years with Aditi Mangaldas Ji, my bars of looking at or viewing a performance has been set so very high (indebted to her). I remember how Aditi Ji got me to get the backdrop stretched to every inch possible or how the musicians would only sit on a black shrug | carpet or how she would revise the opening sequence of the performance over and over again so that it is all perfect. Now that I look at performances, I see how things could be done better or improved or can look more professional. There are many little things to a performance which are of great concern and needs to be thought of well before.
The starting of the performance was a bit nail-biting as the auditorium people were unable to remove the lamp from the stage in time and were in a totally confused state. Finally, they blew off the candle, even before the performance had started, and took it out from the opposite wing just a second before Ms. Acharya was going to enter. Whew!! That was close. I could now concentrate on the dance.
Talaash – e – Haqq, based on rhythm, melody, movement and poetry beautifully portrayed the bit of love everybody shared with the divine Krishna, be it Radha, Rukmini or any other Gopika entwined in his everlasting love. The performance started with a solo by Ms. Acharya and was followed by other duet and group renditions by Kanchan, Elisha, Nandini and Gauri. After a long time I witnessed a performance which was not just about the usual Kathak footwork but more about beauty, abhinaya, love, Krishna… The musicians were on fire, however, there was an occasional whistling sound in one of the mikes which could have been taken care of prior to the performance.
The show ended on a very emotional note with Saswati Ji requesting all to stand up in a moment of silence for the two eternal losses to the art fraternity, Ms. Veronique Azan and Ms. Shanta Sarbjeet Singh a couple of days ago.
Please Note – I am not an artist or a technical person to comment on or judge any aspect of the performance. I do understand what all pain one takes and the courage one puts up to present such a performance and highly appreciate and respect the efforts. Whatever I write is purely what I feel sitting in the audience.
Photographs @ Arijeet Mukherjee
Copyright @ Artist Association of India