Devotion personified

Poorna Kulkarni
Tuesday, 10 September 2019

‘Meera — The Musical’, produced by Art of Living, a Bengaluru-based NGO, is coming to the city. Srividya Varchaswi, who has conceptualised and directed the show, gives details

The Art of Living (AOL) is a volunteer-based, humanitarian and educational non-governmental organisation that works towards various social causes through programmes. The organisation is bringing to the city a music and dance show, Meera—The Musical. The event, to be staged on Sunday evening, will feature 183 artists who will be performing classical dances like Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Odissi, folk dances like Kathputli, Mayur, Ghoomar, Gair and contemporary forms like lyrical yoga. 

The 90-minute show, conceptualised and directed by Srividya Varchaswi, will take the audience through the poignant tale of Meera, a revered Bhakti saint, through 10 of her lesser-known compositions. The proceeds from the show will support the Gift a Smile Project, which caters to children coming from difficult backgrounds. Varchaswi, who is a choreographer and international Art of Living teacher, speaks to us about the music-dance extravaganza. 

Meerabai through music 

“Meerabai’s life is probably one of the most revolutionary tales of all times! We wanted to have a contemporary approach and present this story to a global audience. So we interspersed English dialogues with original soundtracks on 10 of Meerabai’s lesser known compositions like Hari mere praan adhaar and Kunjan ban chaadi and curated a musical that would appeal to all age groups,” says Varchasvi.

“Meera, for me, was a complete woman. She was a beacon of unflinching devotion, unassuming simplicity and unparalleled wisdom. The most victorious aspect of her personality was that she won over all her challenges through love. The songs come in at different moments from when she is a child till she attains samadhi,” she adds. 

The original scores for the songs have been composed by B Prasana, Gautam Dabir, Sachin Limaye and Srinivas. Keerthana, Kavya Limaye, Shalini Srinivas, Gayatri, Chitra Roy, Bhanumathi Narasimhan and K S Chitra have lent their voices.

Speaking about the research that went into making of the musical, she says, “Noted historians, D K Hari and Hema Hari guided us on the references of the compositions that we found through various research papers. We also reached out to locals of Mewar and Chittor to enhance the authenticity of various aspects of the production.” 

Bhanumathi Narasimhan, who is director of Women Empowerment and Child Care Programs for the Art of Living, says, “When you look at Meera’s life from a worldly perspective, there were many challenges, disappointments and hardships in her life. But when you look at her life from the point of view of spiritual wisdom, then you see that she found bliss and joy in her life as a devotee. Her mind was always filled with love and longing for Krishna and Krishna symbolises bliss and joy. Also Meera, through her compassionate ways, stood up to social evils prevalent at that time — be it practices like bali or animal sacrifice or the practice of sati. But she did it without any aggression. Her strength was her devotion and compassion.” 

Creative challenges 

Choreographing and coordinating with 183 artists definitely sounds like a challenge, but it was effortlessly handled. The entire choreography along with other production aspects like casting, costumes, sets and lights were done in a month’s time. Varchaswi says, “All our artists are contributing to this production voluntarily. So they made time for it. It took us close to a month to finish the compositions.” 

As far as coordination was concerned, she adds, “We have a different team performing in every city, so we have coordinated with artists via video conferencing. It’s important to delegate. Rather than being a disadvantage, I feel working with a team is actually more effective because everyone has a sense of belongingness and ownership. Since our vision was the same, it was easy to bring everyone on the same page.” 

ST Reader Service 
‘Meera —The Musical’ will be performed at Balgandharva Rangmandir, JM Road, from 6.30 pm onwards on September 15. The event is ticketed 

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