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SITA-s - Critics Speak
a Neo Bharatam
art captures the many avatars of Sita
Ramanathan, DC Correspondent, February 5, 2011
been a million depictions of Ramayana's Sita over decades of Indian performance
even as most of them have conformed to the traditional texts of Valmiki
and Kamban. But this one was unique. Anita Ratnam's "A million SITA-S"
in the evocative ambience of Amethyst spoke to the multiple dimensions
of Sita, creating a profound connect between Sita the protagonist and Anita,
her contemporary manifestation.
The stage set
under a tree was symbolic of Ravana's Sita. Anita's stunning costume seemed
to represent the eclectic Sita. Her imaginative employment of the vastram
created fluid variations of Sita's moods. And Anita's picture-perfect stage
presence and choreography evoked Sita's resilient power and feminism.
traditional and modern feminine texts, and oral narratives even of her
grandmother, Anita had clearly transformed studious research into an internalized
artistic language. The interpretation ranged from the seminal understanding
of the worldly wickedness of Manthara and the feminine empathy for Surpanakha
to the vindication of Ahalya . And then, Sita herself as the purposeful
force behind all of Rama's trysts with destiny.
plays with nature to create delightful imageries that only a space like
Amethyst can facilitate. The long-stalked lotus becomes a fierce sword
and the dragonfly in the garden is virtual reality. It also plays convincingly
with her faculties of movement, speech and expression, transcending their
grammar, thus never falling into that cliff of contrivance that contemporary
dance-theatre experiments have often succumbed to. This Sita, as Anita
says in conclusion, could be you or me. She is not boxed in the stereotypes
of subservience or insubordination. She is the quintessential (Indian)
woman whose multiple dimensions are at once bashful and bold, and strong
and subtle, in a way that they enhance, not diminish, her feminism.
had no orchestra. Subiksha and Lakshmi Rangarajan gave professional vocal
expression. Viji Krishnan's distinctive violin synergized with the dance
and movement. And Kesavan on the percussion resonated effectively.
SITA-s" is a performance that connects Bharatha's ancient prescription
of theatre with the here-and-now genre of dance –theatre. It epitomizes
the continuous, exploratory and evolving civilization that is India. And
through the prism of Indian art, Indian feminism comes of age.
is the director of a national award winning Tamil film and a fine arts