SRI VALLI / Kaathal Valli Kanda
Murugan (Tamizh) (1975)
monkey is the ancestor of mankind, so is folk dance the ancestor of classical
In 1974, Periasami
Thooran asked the Dhananjayans to present a dance drama based on his work
Valli Thirumanam, for the Tamizh Isai Sangam program. Instead of a lec/dem,
they conceived and presented a dance drama, the first full scale dance
drama production of Bharata Kalanjali with their own students. The title
given by Periasami Thooran was Kaadhal Valli Kanda Murugan, which was renamed
in later presentations as Sri Valli. With the help of Turaiyur Rajagopala
Sarma, an associate of Papanasam Sivan, the music was composed. Sarma,
a well-known music composer in films during the forties, had composed for
many dance dramas in Kalakshetra, and for the Naatyaanjali and varnam in
Attana that the Dhananjayans first performed in their newly structured
Sri Valli is
a mythological story in Tamil. This production involves both classical
and folk style in both music and dance, making it a judicious mixture for
the traditionalists as well as the conservatives.
was a landmark in the history of Bharata Kalanjali in that it was their
first full scale dance drama production.
It was a trendsetter
because the Dhananjayans used the work of a contemporary writer, set to
music by a contemporary composer, something unusual at a time when the
works of only old stalwarts were in vogue.
Kanda Murugan was presented for the 26th Tamizh Isai Sangam’s Pann Aaraichi
celebrations in Chennai on Dec 22, 1975.
is the story of Valli, a tribal chieftain’s daughter and her undying love
for her Lord Muruga is told with all its colour and humour.
the beauty of her friend Valli. Valli and her friends play with a ball.
Valli is suddenly struck with divine light and sees the image of Muruga.
She narrates the imagined encounter with her lord to her friend. Valli
pines for her Lord. Her friends try to distract her and take her to Tinaipunam
(maize fields) to drive the parrots away. Narada appears and learns of
Valli’s love for Muruga. He reports this to Muruga who promises to go to
Tinaipunam in the guise of a hunter to see Valli.
The deer chased
by the hunter seeks shelter with Valli. The hunter wishes to take Valli
instead. When Valli’s father enters, the hunter turns into a tree. As Valli
keeps dreaming of Lord Muruga, he comes in the guise of an old man begging
for food. Valli cannot quench the thirst of the old man and takes him to
a lake where he pulls her in too. He asks her to marry him and Valli gets
fear of elephants, Muruga brings in an elephant and promises to protect
the terrified Valli from the elephant if she agrees to marry him. Distraught,
Valli agrees and Muruga reveals himself. The celestials celebrate the union
of the divine couple Valli and Muruga.
as well as dance, Sri Valli was path breaking, as established artistes
used only old compositions of stalwarts for dance, not music of contemporary
composers, a bold step that we ventured to take. This came in for criticism
by the orthodox school of thought according to which only a Kshetrayya
padam or an ashtapadi comprised pure Bharatanaatyam and anything which
did not include these, was a deviation from tradition. Periasami Thooran
was considered a contemporary then! Also, Telugu padams were more in vogue
than Tamizh padams. In Kalakshetra, hardly any Tamizh padams were done,
not even Krishna Nee Beganay, they were so conservative. I used my imagination
and presented a lot of Tamizh padams."
got good press reviews even though Subbudu who wrote for Ananda Vikatan,
tore the show apart saying ‘Dhananjayan who was born in Kerala has no understanding
of the Tamil culture’!
have presented Valli Thirumanam over a hundred times in every nook and
corner of Tamilnadu. The students were taken everywhere by van and professional
charges were paid only to the musicians, and the Dhananjayans managed to
keep their company afloat with the modest performance fees they received
SRI VALLI -