Of art and music: Bringing saint Thyagaraja alive on stage

Music is the common realm, in which the Lord and devotees meet and mingle.

Music is the common realm, in which the Lord and devotees meet and mingle. According to composer – musician Thyagaraja those who fail to swim in the sea of musical wisdom lead useless lives and waste their births. We are aware, that satguru Thyagaraja’s story is marked by “human emotions”, and this was amply brought out, when T.V. Varadarajan the noted actor, played his role, identifying with Sri Thyagaraja, when he presented the silver jubilee programme of “Sri Thyagaraja”, at Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha. Internalising of the role of Thyagaraja as a singer, composer and saintly human being and he certainly lived the role of the saint, conveying “Thyagaraja Bhakthi” for Rama, through his restrained portrayal of the saint.

The musical drama, “Sri Thyagaraja” was a tribute to “Thyaga Brahamam” presenting anecdotes, from the saint composer’s life, with background music, that highlighted Thyagaraja’s songs. The running theme in many of the songs of Thyagaraja, is unswerving faith in God, for protection and salvation. An excellent revelation was brought out that Thyagaraja’s life, was on affirmation of such faith in Sri Rama, though now and then, he passed through moments swaying between hopes and doubts, particularly when his ‘Pooja Vigraham’ gets stolen. The presentation turned out to be a unique offering, scripted by V.S.V the noted writer and journalist under the music direction of Bombay Jayashri.
The play begins with “Rama Nama” followed by “Jagadanandakaraka” and ends with “Entharo Mahanubavalu”, very appropriate selection, Indeed, the play is an approach to his music, through his life story.

The choice of Thyagaraja, to live on alms (unchavritti), rather than to monetise with his knowledge, creates, tension, between him and his elder brother. The play highlights the various highs and lows, in the life of the composer, succinctly brought out, leading to musical outpourings. The mind of listeners, following the unchavritti is turned on the eventful crisis, in Thyagaraja’s life, shorn today of all pangs and poignancy, through which, the saint passed his years, with only his songs, indicate his rock-like faith in Sri Rama. That his mind was so completely attuned to God, that it refused to respond to the attractions of world pomp and power, was brought out through his kriti “Nidhi sala sukhama”, reflecting, that the play, is an approach to his music, through his life story.

The spectators could easily perceive that T.V. Varadarajan’s acting, always a sublime experience, leads them to divine exaltations and the coordinated efforts of all actors made the play very unique, apart from the story value. Special mention needs to be made of Raja Sri Bhat as his wife Kamalamma and Nathiya as his daughter Seethamma playing their role well. Undoubtedly, the play offers an experience of transcendence, coupled with the power of enactment of T.V. Varadarajan, this drama, provided, an inroad to spiritual ecstasy.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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