“Unravelled” (Bharatnatyam Dance Drama ): A series of monologue of a true spirited Panchakanya Krishna

CREDITS: Photo by: Santosh | Contact :: Artist(s): Janaki Rangarajan | Contact

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Written by: Mohan Kandwal Madan

The struggle of a true artist (may be a truth-seeking dancer) is always addressed to oneself, and it is an intense and momentous journey. This struggle is such that which can not be imagined (what to talk of experiencing it ? …) by those artists (dancers), who merely struggle to compete with others.

A dancer involved in competing with him/herself is always intended to carve out something new in dance, related music, art, and literature. This creation of true meaning is not explicitly visible immediately in things, forms, bhavas, abhinayas, emotions, and occurrences anywhere. Rather it remains deep sublimed into the deep kernel of a dancer, like an enlightened moment, which transforms abstract occurrences, things, feelings, nritya and nritta into reality; which can be perceived by common masses, that too rasika of Classical Dances.

A good dance is based on pleasant or solitude related (nostalgic) memories (any type) termed as milan and virah or more aptly sanyog shringhaara and viyog shringhaara. They once performed, becomes fully responsible for taking the audience into a trance, a state of selflessness, egolessness. Heart, mind and soul combined follow cosmic joy, brahmananda and paramananada. They dance in divinity with big self, the Almighty, the Creator, Nurturer, and Destroyer.

25 November 2017 was such an evening with Janaki Rangarajan at Franchise Alliancaise, College Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai, which is still imprinted on heart, mind and soul, that even after five days were gone, I am not come out fully, from the trance-effects and inherent lessons of this dance drama full of monologues and dialogues.

I feel that by penning down this article, I shall get a feeling of self-satisfaction and simultaneously it will be a mark of gratitude to the dance drama “Unravelled” based in Draupadee, performed by the truth-seeking Bharatnatyam dancer, Janaki Rangarajan.


(“Not be enmeshed in titles of mother, wife, daughter or sister
But a wildflower that dances in spring and perishes in winter”),

( “My no space breasts where hot tears,
Collected and formed pools
I emptied them man-by-man
Ritualistically, thumb turned away”),.

(“Come Dushasana, pull, pull harder
Unclothe me and see your paradigms fall
See me go back to the wild; Dance in the moonlight demand shout for joy”)

And all the above portrayed, Draupadi, Yagyseni, Panchali, and Krishna, based on the script by Mr. V. Balakrishnan, Music by Smt. Sudha Raghuraman and Lights by Mr. Charles Baby.

As the absence of photography and videography gave us ample time to witness closely the entire dance drama and we too intensively participated by not leaving in between, agreed with monologues, dialogues of Draupadee.

The monologues came straight from the heart, which was under pain, anguish, state of dismay, revenge and shock, by seeing occurrences taking place there in a congress of knowledgeable, mighty people, courtmen and defeated Pandavas. Only exceptions were Vidur, who left and one more Kaurava, who was tasked before Dushashana to bring Panchali by force into the Court.

Now I am right and apt to coin names to all these four parts, as confirmed again, and essence of all these acts, I can still smell on my nostrils. It was a four acts/ parts drama, namely:-

1. Soul’s monologue
2. When time stopped (which showed disrobing)
3. Wild-flower
4. Politics of Draupadi

Starting with Draupadee wandering in a place, where departed soul is being offered tarpanaa with background hum sound of “Tripabhyam”, it progressed to Robbing Incident, followed by far-flung mountain village of snowy Himalayan, a tribe girl and Grandfather’s Interaction on last rituals and making a temple of suddenly found Skelton of Draupadee having five necklaces and lastly culminated with cunning full acts of Patriarchal Society to label a rape /excessive torture victim as a Devi ( having large heart or a Goddess always forgiving), to shut down her mouth permanently.

Having said all that, at the outset, I must admit that (as always) Janaki Rangarajan again lived to tradition of uniqueness “ESP” of her dance attires in terms of selection of fitting and colour combinations. Secondly need not to say a single word on energy, positivity, divinity, displayed by her throughout the dance drama.

She is well known by everyone for her elegance and effective efficiency on focussing on content, character, bhavas, abhinayas, hand mudras and feet movements including establishing a pure, down to earth humanistic relationship with spellbound, mesmerized and awestruck audiences.

Here, She looked like Yagyaseni in varied moods and states of life and atrocities caused on her but the empowered looks of her (Draupadee) was the significant thing to observe every time, especially challenging Dushashana psycho-analytically.

The most astonishing thing was to see her getting merged into the character of Krishna (Draupadee) to such an extent, that She spoke all long poetic, rough monologues/ dialogues smoothly, effortlessly and without fumbling, while performing a dance.

She kept on entering into character and de-entering into Janaki Rangarajan, at least four times during drama a devotion and conscientious effort to her divine worship to Bharatnatyam.

While the first two parts were thought-provoking, the third one was more musical and full of shringhaara and lasya too, easily comprehensible to the common audience like me.

The last one was the crux of the dance drama, showing the significance if empowerment of girl child and not to label/ elevate them as Goddesses, which are merely meek and less powerful than empowered Draupadee. Draupadi who stood against all odds caused to her or on Pandavas. Draupadi who lost all her five sons, but never got motherly pleasures of feeding and nurturing her children’s, as she was akshatyauwanaa, had five husband’s but was none’s wife as all Pandavas had other marriages too and moreover once she fell en route, nobody turned back to see, care for her, as all Pandavas were willing to go heavens physically via Neeti-Mana Valley further via Satopanth, Uttrakhand.

Draupadi who got good and bad names for occurrence of Mahabharata was a real victor , who although born from fire choose her destiny, took her own decisions like other PANCHAKANYAs, her counterparts like Kuntee, Taaraa, Mandodari, Ahilya, and not behaved like meek satees as Seeta, Aanushya, Arundhati, and two more satees… remind me of the names, if anyone know.

This fourth part got concluded with a Tamil folk song sung by Janaki Rangarajan just like a Tamil folk lady in Draupadee Amman temple – from where this drama got it’s origin. Janaki looked like a Tamil folk lady and good folk singer too.

After reading complete Mahabharata and different psychoanalytic novels into psyche of Draupadee by Pratibha Roy (and others) like “Palace if Illusions” and others, I had an eagerness {no apprehensions with capabilities of ‘JR’ }, to know that Janaki!!!!!! how will she portray Draupadee , who wish to not to be lebelled, as mere sister, mother, wife or beloved (pivotal question of feminism as in date ), but as a free soul as a wild flower blooming in spring and summer and perishing in winter.

Draupadi took birth from fire got perished in the snowy Himalayas was like this only a wild free Himalayan flower, Kutaz, having indomitable spirits, an idea, a unique persona.

“Panchali – Sabatham” (Panchali’s Pledge) of great Tamil Poet Subramanyam Bharathi is another book on Draupadee (yet to be read by me), which certainly assisted Janaki psychologically to put new perspectives into life, inner conflicts and character of Draupadi.

Janaki expressed her likings for Draupadee as a character in terms of empowerment as compared to her name shake {Fully agree to}. Here I wish to congratulate Janaki Rangarajan for standing against all odds from all sorts of virtual and real Societies, She encounters/ belongs, and being of experimentative nature, challenging to herself every time and to her production staff too.

Really speaking, You are one of the best {BEST} Bharatnatyam Dancer, the most sought-after and original and having an eternal thirst for truth and truth only. During this course frictions may be sweet or bitter {and it may never be sweet, it is bitter always.}

Your this production and many others are going to be an ultimate evergreen success all the time. I believe so and trust too. The feedback we get from the common audience, Social Media, pupils and Sabhas and artists is phenomenal to speak of your popularity. Criticism is also a yardstick of the undoubted popularity of your art in our hearts. Your unique feet movement is also a graceful mudra only seen in your dance, as I WITNESSED AGAIN AND AGAIN. All d best for your future endeavors.

{{Comments are always welcome.}}

FEW PARTS OF POEMS FROM HINDI, Came to mind while watching different acts of Dance Drama performed by Janaki Rangarajan.

“और ईश्वर को चँदन की तरह
माथे पर.लगा
वे दर्पण मे अपना
निष्कलँक चेहरा देखते हैं।”(देवताले)

” महान लोग रात को लबादे की तरह नही ओढ़ते
रात उनके लिये
दिन भर के कुकुर्मों पर पडा़ हुआ पर्दा है।” (जगूड़ी)

“तेरी देह/देहरी है जिसके पार/एक समाधिस्थ सन्नाटा है।” (अज्ञेय)

“घिर गया है समय का रथ कँही/ लालिमा से मढ़ गया है राग।” (शमशेर)

“मैने देखा/एक बूँद सहसा/ उछली सागर के झाग से/रँगी गयी क्षण भर/ढ़लते सूरज की आग से।”(अज्ञेय)


“तुम तत्-सत्/ मै यह क्षण।” (शमशेर)………….

Author Courtesy: Dr Sitakant Mohapatra for basic ideas befitting to the persona of this Bharatanatyam dancer, we know as “JR”… and Janki Rangarajan

About the Author: Mohan Kandwal Madan is an avid reader of Hindi and English literature and a diehard follower of all forms of Indian classical dance, vocal and instrumental recitals. He is equally fond of folk fine arts, poetry and traveling to feel the nature and people around. Whenever something touches the core of the heart, he shows respect to art and artist by penning down critical review of the event. This is one of such dance drama, performed by great Bharatanatyam exponent Janki Rangarajan, which compelled him to write this article. Connect with him at https://www.facebook.com/malinee.bhaarat


Article originally published at https://www.facebook.com/malinee.bhaarat. Edited & Reposted here with author permission.


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