Purusharta: The meaning of life

Well, to be honest, I got the `time’ part of it and the `death’ and `joy’ parts of it…but for the rest, I was mostly transfixed by the truly unique performance that was the Bangalore-based Attakalari Centre for Movement Arts’ Purushartha. Performed for the first time in India (after travelling all over the world), the group was on for one-night only at Music Academy on Wednesday and left the largely appreciative audience in considerable awe.

Attakalari works with “contemporary physical expressions and digital arts” and is a form influenced by Kalarippayattu, Yoga and Bharathanatyam among other Indian movement styles, as their brochure puts it. The performance itself, was of breathtaking snippets to the tune of, well, what someone described as “atonal” music, entwined with intangible rhythm patterns, that were there yet not quite, designed by Japanese sound performer Mitsuaki Matsumoto. To add the the already intriguing mix was Kunihiko Matsuo’s visuals and Naoki Hamanaka’s stage or rather light design, all directed and choreographed by Attakalari’s Jayachandran Palazhy (his gurus, the Dhananjayans’ were there to bless him)

The performance, which is based on the concept of Purushartha, the meaning of being, is an exploration of various individuals’ versions or visions of the same in what appears to be a 60-minute linear timeframe. However, just as the dancers weaved in and out of the LED-lights, the flow of thought or being was layered, overlapping, one dilemma or situation spilling over to the next, alluring, confusing, challenging and yet unaccountably moving. Palazhy and the performers explained at the interaction in the end, that each member of the team was asked to bring forward an incident from their lives, an experience which for them framed a meaning of being. Refusing to narrate any of the stories, he asked that the audience continue thinking it through, interpreting and connecting the dots as they felt natural or likely to.

Like an open-ended novel, where the reader is asked to contribute towards its completion in a sense. Palazhy and members of the team invited the audience to collaborate on the creation of the performance, through projecting a meaning, a thought or fixing a life experience, understanding a pattern or perhaps even just leaving their cellphones on!

One looks forward to more performances from Attakalari in Chennai!

2 Comments so far

  1. tsk tsk (unregistered) on February 15th, 2008 @ 10:37 am

    Not bad…Interesting…

    Dont you think Art shows in chennai are not well advertised (or they do not do a good job of getting the word out?). Allota interested people barely get to know when these things happen.

    Many of us complain that there isnt any variety of entertainment in the city apart from cinema, bars and malls and then show organizers complain that there isnt much patronage. Obviously.. there is some lack of marketing effort.

  2. gugan (unregistered) on February 16th, 2008 @ 6:43 pm


    i was there at the show too!! yes..it was a stunning performance though filled with obscurities!I have blogged about it too!! Your write up is fitting one!!

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