About an Arangettam

Meghana Muralidharan’s Bharatanatyam Arangetram performed on August 17 at the Bayou Theater, U of H, Clear Lake, was, on all accounts, a consummate treat.
As the Guru Sunanda Nair appropriately summarized at the conclusion of the event, it was way more than an Arangetram, even by the standards of many professional events that we have seen. And I have seen plenty of such. I could add several superlative adjectives, but without hinting any flattery or excess, it was exceptional, outstanding, one of a kind. Every piece of the program fitted precisely like in a jigsaw. The auditorium seating, sound, light, the elegant yet simple ’21 light salute’ hanging from the ceiling on the spacious stage with the blue backdrop, the overall ambiance, and the divine assembly of Nataraja and Saraswathi’…all merged in well.
The Vocalist, Murali Parthasarathy gave the essential substance to the show along with the excellent supportive ensembles on mridangam by Venkatesan Vedakrishnan, violin by Sunil Bhaskar and of course the nattuvangam by the Guru Sunanda. No dance performance can go well without all of the accompaniments blending well in unison. And the chief guest, the legendary Soorya Krishnamoorthy was quite a unique surprise adding on to the excellence of the evening. His quoted words of wisdom were a breath of fresh air to the present-day decaying morals and ideals, “Culture is the concern for others; you protect your valuables, we protect our values; tailors make you dignified, our culture makes us dignified”.
     And the star of the show, Meghana performed beyond perfection. Every piece, as different they were, excelled the other. In one of the best Varnams by Papanasam Sivan, that I have seen in any Arangetram, Meghana proved her mettle in her prowess and mastery of Nritta, Nritya, and Natya. I wish P. Bhaskaran was in the audience to watch his Keshadi Paadam, as Murali Parthasarathy rendered it with emotional perfection as Meghana added another dimension to bhakti with her exquisite Abhinaya. Bhaja Manasa was quite an impressive beginning while Kavadi Chintu was a surprising crowd-pleaser, and every other bit kept up the crescendo through the evening.
     Unique credit goes to Meghana, that unlike many Arangetrams where invitees attend such debuts to bless and encourage the budding artists, this was an exceptionally entertaining evening as many in the audience felt a let-down that it was about to end when she started the Mangalam. Some of the pieces almost brought tears of happiness in me, as I felt that old age, after all, is worth living, having a chance to attend such pleasing events.
     I sincerely hope that Meghana cherishes and nurtures this divine gift through her life, that only a few are blessed and endowed with such inborn talent. I am sure that her illustrious Guru would continue to mold her as a worthy prodigy and that her parents would offer her all the needed inspiration and encouragement. My prayers, blessings, and best wishes to Meghana in whatever endeavor she pursues as her vocation.

Author: Dr. Venugopal Menon

Was born and raised in a loving family in pre-independent India, became a doctor, served Indian army, got married, then came over to America with wife and a daughter, established as a successful Allergist, raised a family of three children, was involved in many social establishments, retired, and wrote memoirs, 'My Mother Called Me Unni, A Doctor's Tale of Migration'.

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