Celebrating Janmashtami through Geet Govind

The Asian Age.  | Sandip Soparrkar

Life, Art

The work portrays the love of Krishna for Radha, his faithlessness and subsequently upsetting her, but eventual return to her.

The show was overlooked in supervision of Madhura Jasraj ji.

Janmashtami just went by and all Krishna lovers in India and all over the world were celebrating their most loved lords birthday like never before. Be it Mathura, Vrindavan, ISKCON temple or private homes and mandir (Temples) all were fully decorated with flowers of all types and fragrance, Chappan bhog (fifty six delicacies offered to lord) were presented to lord Krishna. This I am talking about for various pooja (prayers) that were offered to Krishna. There were also many Govinda Toli (Gang of boys) who were moving around in their respective cities to break the Dahi Handi (pot of butter curd hung high up in the air as a game)

On the other hand there were some artist who were celebrating Janmashtami by showcasing the life of Govinda through the very famous Geeta Govind. For those who are not too aware of Geeta Govind. It is a poetic composition written by renowned Indian poet Shri. Jayadeva. Geet Govind as the name suggests, is a work composed on Lord Krishna, describing his relationship with the Gopis (female cow herders) of Vrindavana, and in particular with Radha (most beloved gopi of Shri Krishna).

The show was choreographed by Guru. Sau Sandhya Damle, the founder of Nritya Darpan Academy of fine arts, she has been nurturing Indian Classical Dance form Bharatnatyam through her institute since more than a decade now and has been instrument in various stage shows with her very dedicated and talented students. For Geet Govind in particular she asked my dear friend Shreyas Desai to play the main role of Lord Krishna himself along with other dancers like, Priyanka Sakpal, Kirti Mhatre, Priyal Desai, Divya Rmeshkumar, Nitya Rmeshkumar and Anushka Salvi. The best part of this Geet Govind show was that the music was based on music album 'Geet Govind - songs of eternal love' by Pandit Jasraj with renowned singer like Shankar Mahadevan, AnuradhaPaudwal,  Shreya Ghoshal and Mahalakshmi Iyer. The show was overlooked in supervision of Madhura Jasraj ji.

The work portrays the love of Krishna for Radha, his faithlessness and subsequently upsetting her, but eventual return to her; the ultimate, eternal and indestructible bond of love shared between them. The text especially elaborates the moods of Radha, 'The Nayika' (The heroine), which has been an inspiration for many compositions and choreographic works in Indian classical dance forms.

Guru Sau. Sandhya crafted an interesting attempt to make this poetic composition more intriguing and appealing in the form of an innovative dance ballet. As we all know that The Geet Govind is organized into twelve chapters Samodadamodaram (Exuberant Krishna), Akleshakeshavam (Blithesome Krishna), Mugdhamadhusudanam (Winsome Krishna), Snigdhamadhusudanam (Tender Krishna), Saka?k?a pu?darikak?ham (Passionate Krishna), Dhr?ta vaiku??a (Audacious Krishna), NagaranarayanaH (Dexterous Krishna), Vilak?yalak?mipatiH (Apologetic Krishna), Mugdhadamukunda (Unpretentious Krishna), ChaturachaturbhujaH (Tactful Krishna), Sanandadamodaram (Joyful Krishna) and SupritapitambaraH (Exultant Krishna)and the choreography of Sandhya ji was divided into twelve parts accompanied by extremely emotional and moving twelve songs.

This two-hour performance which was held in Mumbai, threw light on the celestial love between Radha and Lord Krishna and explored many parts of passion, love, experiencing joys in the experience, its playfulness adding light hearted tones for the audience. The lyrical dance-drama, an epical poetry with characters of Radha, a typical classical heroine, muse of Sanskrit poetry, is proud of her beauty, is completely in love with Krishna, playful, sulking, jealous, tempestuous and despairing and Krishna, the eternal male figure with elegance, is urgent charming and uncommitted.

Starting with promise of a meeting, Radha finds Krishna with other women, engaging in 'rasaleela,' involving dancing, singing, frolicking, merry-making to his ever melodious and enchanting fluting. Upset, jealous with his infidelity, Radha is in grave despair and her friends try to placate her. They remind her of their eternal bond, that Krishna too is in grieving at their separation and plead her to end hers and Krishna's misery.

Radha submits to their entreaties but feels abandoned on again finding him with another gopi. Now, she is extremely disappointed and angry and asks Krishna to go away. Alone and separated, they long for each other. Krishna returns to her, apologises and makes her realise and understand how much he loves her.

This performance drew an insight into, a picture of their relationship - Krishna repents, longs for Radha, commiserates with her distress, waits for her, makes her jealous, importunes and praises her, enjoys and reassures her of his love. Radha sulks and despairs, wastes away, flies into tempers, rails at Krishna, consents and finds joy and contentment in their ultimate union.

Close towards ending, there is celebration of love and the beauty in their love and passion. The performance ends with a portrayal of description of their togetherness and their union.

Talking about the cast and crew Shandhya ji said, 'I saw, Shreyas Desai, who plays the main lead as my Shri Krishna perform at a show, though he is a trained India folk dancer, but I could see the fire in him, so I picked him from thousands other dancers and trained him personally in Abhinaya (expressions) and what you finally experience on stage is magic.'

Taking about his experience of playing Krishna, Shreyas said, 'I feel humbled and privileged that Sandhya ji chose me to be a part of this huge production of her version of Geet Govind, it was an honour to be trained under her guidance and also to be getting some valuable tips from Madhura ji, this is one experience of my life that I cherish for a long time to come.'      

This is not the first time that Sandhya Damle has staged her version of Geeta Govind, this show has been widely appreciated and appraised by the audience and also by the renowned and acclaimed classical vocalist Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan Pandit Jasraj. This performance has left the audience in throes of joy and experiencing a connection to their roots of rich classical heritage.

The next show of Geet Govind is being planned in October in Mumbai followed by a serious of it in other cities of India and abroad through Sandhya Damle ji's Nritya Darpan Academy of fine arts, so if you get to know that this show is coming to your city, please leave all your work back at home and don't miss a chance to see this breadth taking musical based on songs of Pandit Jasraj conceptualised by the super talented Sandhya Damle with my darling multi talented Shreyas Desai as Krishna.  

Sandip Soparrkar is a World Book Record holder, a well known Ballroom dancer and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honoured with two National Excellence awards and one National Achievement Award by the Govt of India. He can be contacted on sandipsoparrkar06@gmail.com