Inspired by his vision and his sensitivity to portray “the complete woman” as one who personifies love, courage and substance, the eminent Odissi exponent Ranjana Gauhar, pays homage to Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore through her presentation of his dance drama Chitrangada.
“Chitrangada” is timeless. It is as relevant today as it was when Gurudev visualized her. Ranjana has gathered her thoughts both from “Chitra”, the one-act play in English and “Chitrangada”, the popular Bengali dance drama both written by Rabindranath Tagore and found that the true essence of a woman lies beyond her external beauty.
A woman of substance believes in her independence and freedom of expression………
Through her dance production, Ranjana, recounts the tale of Chitrangada, a Manipuri princess, who through her passion for Arjuna the great warrior from the epic Mahabharata, came to realize that her true power and potential as a woman lay in her duty towards society.
Concept &choreography by Ranjana Gauhar
Music director : Saroj Mohanty
Technical director : Gautam Bhattacharya/Sandeep Datta
Narrator : Averee Chaury
Duration: 55 minutes
Storyline of Chitrangada as presented in the dance drama
Princess Chitrangada, a brilliant and brave character mentioned in the great Indian epic Mahabharata, was a warrior princess of Manipur, who fell in love with Arjuna, whose prowess in archery is well-known.
Inspired by her persona, Rabindranath Tagore, the great Indian litterateur, poet and Nobel recipient, embellished the character of Chitrangada with the myriad emotions of a woman.
In the year 1892, Tagore gave a new dimension to the story of Chitrangada and set it in a dance drama, which turned out to be one of his most popular dance-drama.
The story goes that the brave Arjuna during his period of exile took to the hills for meditation. The territory came under the kingdom of Chitrangada, the warrior princess of Manipur. On one of her hunting forays she came across Arjuna.
For one who has never known a life other than the battle field and defending her kingdom, Chitrangada is transfixed by the attractive Arjuna and despite herself falls in love with him.
Chitrangada asks him to disclose his identity and when she comes to know that it is the mighty Arjuna, she is in awe and determined to win his love.
When the innocent Chitrangada expresses her feelings to Arjuna he rejects her under the pretext of celibacy. A spurned Chitrangada is shattered, hurt and insulted. She realizes that there is more to her personality than just being a warrior. The dormant emotions of love surfaces and like a determined and undefeated warrior she seeks the blessings of Lord Madana, the God of Love, to grant her ‘beauty’ for one year, the weapon with which she aims to subjugate Arjuna.
A transformed beautiful Chitrangada by design starts living in the forest temple close to the place where Arjuna meditated and charms him. Arjuna is besotted by her beauty and consequently breaks his vow of celibacy.
As days pass by she is suffocated under the burden of borrowed beauty. She undergoes an upheaval of emotions. Though it is true that she desires Arjun, but she desires him as an equal and without the trappings of beauty on lease.
Chitrangada returns to Madana and beseeches him to release her from this life of duplicity. The God of Love pacifies her misgivings and cajoles her to enjoy this phase of life as it a gift with a limited period.
As the initial wave of love subsides, Chitrangada as well as Arjuna start to introspect. They learn of their true moorings as individuals and their calling in life.
Incidentally, one day Arjuna sees villagers fleeing and asks them the reason for the panic. He is told that the village has been attacked by dacoits and there is no one to fight and protect them. They lamented that their princess Chitrangada, who loved them like a mother and who fought like a tigress to protect them and defend the kingdom has gone on a pilgrimage to an unknown destination. The people’s love and admiration for Chitrangada ignites an interest in Arjuna’s mind about the brave princess and his desire to meet her gathers strength.
An intrigued Arjun share’s his thoughts with the beautiful Chitrangada, who dissuades him by telling him that the warrior princess does not have attractive eyes like her nor a complexion as fair as hers. To this observation, Arjuna says that had she been there he would have fought the marauders along with the warrior princess. This becomes a moment of realization for Chitrangada, about her true strength, her duty towards her people and kingdom and her desire to shed the mask of falsehood.
Chitrangada, gets release from a make believe life, retrieves her dignity and returns to her kingdom. Arjuna comes to meet Chitrangada in her court and seeks her hand in marriage. Though she wants Arjuna as her companion, yet she asserts her right to be his equal in all respects and accept her for who she is. Arjuna accepts her on her own terms.
Rabindranath Tagore envisions “Chitrangada” like any other woman, who would desire to be an equal consort to the man of her choice while retaining her true identity. Chitrangada therefore becomes the exemplary woman. The musical dance drama is a lyrical portrayal of emotions in a woman, her dignity, individuality and worthiness that is as relevant in today’s life as it was eons ago.