Following the success of her 2008 dance drama “Maya Ravana,” Kerala born actress and danseuse Shobana Chandrakumar is back touring the United States with her latest grand dance musical billed as “Krishna.”
Launched in 2011, the English dialogued dance production promises not only a visually moving glimpse of one of Lord Vishnu’s popular avatars, but will showcase some of the lesser known stories as well as memorable tales based on the deity’s life as told in the ancient mega saga, the Mahabharata.
Branching from childhood to divine hood, some of Lord Krishna’s life journeys, from the cities of Vrindavan to Kurukshetra will be restored on stage. Vrindavan is a forested area, near the city of Mathura where according to the Mahabharata, Krishna spent his childhood days. Kurukshetra is not only the setting of a famous battle which arose from a dynastic succession struggle between two Indo-Aryan groups of cousins, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, but also where Krishna spoke the Bhagvad Gita, the Hindu scripture.
Ravi Vellatheri, director of public relations of the cultural organization of Hindu Malayalee (OHM) which is presenting Southern California’s production explained that the drama will depict devotion and convey a message of spiritualism through the portrayal of “Krishna, the man and his philosophy.”
Shobana who choreographed and directed the performance will act as Krishna, the winsome, persona of Godhead. A host of Indian celebrities also lend their vocal support to the medley of diverse characters during the two hour theatrical production.
Narrations will be provided by Tamil actor Surya for the gallant Arjuna, Konkana Sen will dub for Krishna’s eternal consort, Radha, while veteran actress and social activist Shabana Azmi will voice for the wise and blindfolded Queen Gandhari.
Tamil actor Prabhu will emphasize the invincible Kshatriya warrior, Bheeshma’s role, actress Andrea Jeremiah will recite for Rukmini and supermodel Milind Soman will voice for the strong and loyal yet evil warrior Duryodhana who cruelly participated in the shaming of Draupadi voiced by Nandita Das.
Approximately 18 dance disciples, all from the Chennai based Kalarpana dance school, founded by Shobana will bring magic to the stage as they wed gestures and body movements from traditional dance styles such as Bharatnatyam, folk and modern Bollywood film dances which nterplay with fused world music, Carnatic, Tamil film music along with popular Indian film music scores by A.R. Rahman mixed by Oscar winning sound designer, Resul Pookkutty.
Pookkutty, along with Richard Pryke and Ian Tapp won the 2009 Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing for the film Slumdog Millionaire.
The performance will be toured through roughly 18 locations within the United States between April and May, and is organized by Texas based Freedia Entertainment according to Vellatheri.
In addition, the production has also been shown internationally in countries such as Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Kuwait, Oman, and in Kenya in Africa. OHM aims to raise funds via this concert for a future community center and encourage similar events which “nurture the age old art and expressions that flourished in and around Kerala, the southern state of India” said Vellatheri.
Shobana is a leading actress of South Indian film, and is a two time Best Actress Award Winner at the Indian National Film Awards by Government of India. She was awarded the Padma Shri award in 2006 by the Indian government for her contributions towards classical dance.
May 9, 6 p.m. Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach. $150-$55. (714) 805-9880. http://www.itsmyseat.com/events/434385.html