The 45th Mohini Nrityotsav in Bengaluru last month saw Parvathy Menon, a Kerala High Court lawyer, swap her black robes for a more colourful attire when she took to the stage to perform a solo kuchipudi dance drama.
Organised by the renowned dance institution Monisha Arts, the two-day event was held at Ada Rangamandira on August 25. The annual festival saw the participation of renowned artists from across the country. Ernakulam native Parvathy performed Jwalamukhi, a one-of-a-kind dance-drama, where she essayed all the characters whilst still staying true to the artform’s essence. It was the first time that she took to the stage solo.
“Performing Jwalamukhi was a surreal experience for me. I’m so grateful that I got the opportunity to don the role of a powerful woman character like Sati,” Parvathy says. Jwalamukhi, which is based on Shivapurana, traces the life of Sati, the daughter of Daksha. To imbibe the role with her own unique approach, Parvathy, who had the original text of Shivapurana in Sanskrit, translated it and read it in its entirety. “This helped change my perspective on Sati,” she says. Empowered by this new understanding, Parvathy set the concept, the composition and the choreography of Jwalamukhi, all to stellar acclaim.
“Like everyone, I started my dance career by practising bharatanatyam. But eventually, my interest shifted to kuchipudi. The primary reason is that it is neither as stiff as bharatanatyam nor as fluid as mohiniyattam. Kuchipudi has its own distinct waves, lines and structures. Secondly, I love acting, and there’s room in kuchipudi to explore that as well. At its heart, kuchipudi bestows one freedom,” Parvathy says.
The daughter of Kerala High Court lawyers Harishankar Menon and Meera Menon, Parvathy started to learn dance at three, under the able tutelage of Guru Kalamandalam Mohanathulasi, the disciple of Natyakulaguru Padmabhushan Dr Vempatti Chinna Sathyam. “During my graduation, I got a central government scholarship for dance [the prestigious Scholarship for Young Artistes in Kuchipudi instituted by the Ministry of Culture]. I needed to send a mandatory report every six months about what I had learned. At that time, balancing everything was a task, and the typical question of ‘dance or academics’ rose,” Pravathy recalls, adding that she’s glad that she has stuck it out with both.
“Eventually, I got into the government law college in Ernakulam and became the fifth-generation lawyer in my family. I just came into this career very coincidentally. Now, I can’t think of doing anything else. I’ve come to love my profession,” she says. According to Parvathy, dance and law are somehow connected. “I think they both complement each other. In dance, the literature that we are going to perform is very important. We try to interpret it and reach our own conclusions. The same is true for law. We try to interpret and find a solution. How we think is similar in both forms,” she adds.
Parvathy admits that there are a lot of challenges in pursuing your passion while engaged in a full-time profession. “You need to dedicate a lot of time. You need to invest a lot of energy, both physically and mentally. But if you have the passion, you will try to make time. You just need to prioritise things better,” she says. Now, Parvathy has performed at various prominent venues in the country.
About Monisha Arts
Monisha Arts is an initiative in tribute to the talented late actor and dancer Monisha, headed by her mother. It works diligently to promote art and culture in the country and recently completed 45 years. Mohini Nrityotsav, their annual festival, is one of the most anticipated dance events, which draws renowned artists from all corners of the country.
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