Unless I’m forgetting something, it’s been close to ten years since I posted Padmini’s “Maraindhirundu Paarkum.” When I did this in 2008, I subtitled the post “The Nine Emotions” because Padmini’s rapid demonstration of that ancient theatrical tradition – aka the Navarasa – was the aspect of this dance that I have always found most enjoyable and fascinating. Since that time, I have seen a few better clips of “Maraindhirundu Paarkum” and my enthusiasm for it has only grown.
It is wonderful how Padmini displays the nine emotions in under nine seconds, and the display of each particular emotion is wonderful too. I love the theatricality of the expressions, which perfectly suits the Bharatanatyam dance. (Here, we should not be looking for the naturalistic acting that so many people want to see in contemporary cinema, but intense facial gestures inherited from forms of dance and theater that go back millennia – and no one does that better than Padmini!)
Anyway, here is one of those better clips of “Maraindhirundu Paarkum.” Padmini’s sensational display of the Navarasa starts at about 1:20.
Classical (Kathak) Dancing to Sia (with Navarasa) (in an office somewhere)
Curiously, during the past week, just after my mind had returned to “Maraindhirundu Paarkum,” I discovered one charming contemporary effort to speed through the Navarasa, this time in a Kathak dance. I was not looking for another Navarasa display at the time. In fact, I was attracted to the video because of another tendency that I’ve talked about here before (in my Odd(itie)s and Ends post): Indian classical dances done to the music of Sia, the highly successful Australian singer and composer of contemporary pop music. Among the pop stars who have gained a massive following in the past few years, I would consider Sia to be, possibly, the most interesting and talented. (I don’t like every Sia song on her albums or on the many soundtracks in which she’s participated. But I always greatly respect what she’s doing, and when a Sia song clicks for me, I love it.) I actually don’t know why Sia’s music – especially the song “Cheap Thrills” – has been treated to so many classical Indian dance covers. Is it because of some connections between traditional Indian rhythms and the beat of Sia’s music? In any event, I’m glad that so many Indian dancers have this affinity. (I should add, though, that in this particular case, the music is an instrumental cover of Sia’s song. Like the dances being done to this song, the number of musical versions seems to have multiplied.)
The Navarasa is also the best part of this dance. The dancer here dedicatedly goes through the whole Navarasa in the latter part of the clip while the names of the emotions are spelled out in a large caption – not only the original names, by the way, but also the English words for them, which I certainly appreciated. (I wish someone had spelled out her name, though – that remains a mystery.) This dancer didn’t dazzle me like Padmini, but she is quite good, especially considering that she is not a film or dance star but, obviously, someone who had to do a YouTube video in some office somewhere during off-hours, when the electronic equipment was covered up. (What kind of equipment is that? Is that printing equipment? Or photography equipment? Maybe it’s medical equipment. I don’t think it’s standard office computers – but it could be.) At any rate, as readers of this blog should know by now, I’ve gained a special appreciation for dancers who become committed to doing their art in everyday rooms not designed for dance or performance events – such as the ones I posted under the title Another Mujra in A Different Kitchen. Let’s add this fine one to the list.
“Raag Yaman in Bollywood Songs”
In another post that’s close to a decade old, I discussed a couple of old Hindi film songs that I had heard were composed around Raag Yaman (or Raga Yaman, as I labeled it back then). (Actually, one of the commenters here disagreed that one of these songs was Raag Yaman, saying it was Raag Shankara, but this is a debate that I have also seen elsewhere that I did not want to get into. The song, “Jhanan Jhan Jhana Ke Apni Payal,” might include a bit of both. As far as I know, the other film song that I mentioned, “Awara Aye Mere Dil,” was always accepted as being based on Raag Yaman and nothing else.)
Within that post, I also included a YouTube clip from Tripmonk’s channel, which showed a couple of guys playing Raag Yaman AND explaining what it was. Unfortunately, that clip disappeared. But recently, I have found a very nice instructional video about “Raag Yaman in Bollywood Songs.” This video mentions and excerpts from a number of classic film songs that I had never mentioned, including “Kahin Ye Wo Toh Nahin” from Haqeeqat (1964), “Nigahen Milaneko Jee” from Dil Hi Toh Hai (1963) (which is a song I’m very fond of, by the way), and “Abhi Na Jao Chhodkar” from Hum Dono (1961). The teacher in this video, Anuja Kamat, gives a detailed explanation about what makes these songs Raag Yaman, what notes and sequences Raag Yaman contains, and the variation called Raag Yaman Kalyan. She also sings the notes of the raag beautifully throughout.
Anuja Kamat has a number of other instructional/singing videos on her channel well worth looking at. There is a second video about Raag Yaman in Bollywood songs, covering more contemporary material. There is also a video about songs based on Raag Bhimpalas, and there are videos that I intend to watch soon that cover more basic subjects such “What Is a Raag,” “Basic Theory of Indian Music,” and “History of Indian Music” (in several parts). So far, this looks like a delightful and very informative channel, and I’m sure I’ll be mentioning some more of Anuja’s videos sometime soon.