Ma3Ka is a personal journey for Anita Ratnam exploring the various forms of female energy and her association of these forms with the women in her life: her grandmother, mother and daughter. The performance was a three-part narrative with Revathi Shankaran as the Sutradhari (narrator) introducing the three energies: shwetha, padma and shyama. I was impressed by the versatility of Revathi Shankaran, who kept the audience captivated and even involved them in the narration of stories. Anita, as Saraswathi, made her appearance in a ‘Michellesque’ white dress with ‘A’ embroidered on it depicting the beginning, but unfortunately it too closely resembled the look of hotel upholstery turned into a costume! She later appeared in crimson and green as Lakshmi and Sakthi, both very well-made and interesting costumes with a distinctive South-East Asian flavour to them. Together with the stage props of veena and trishul (trident) and clever use of lighting, the production had a dramatic feel.
The music was an interesting mix of rap-like recitation of lyrics followed by singing the lyrics peppered with theermanams. It was well sung, but the renderings of theermanams were a bit too fluid, giving the nritta aspect of the production an up-in-the-air feeling as opposed to being grounded. The steps were predominantly based on bharatanatyam, but were also heavily influenced by kalari payattu and South-East Asian dances which were neatly executed. The use of legs to depict Saraswathi’s veena and an unusually long braid for Lakshmi, which was later used as a symbol of transformation from the ancient to modern, attracted applause.
Hari Krishnan’s choreography was an interesting mix of various styles but could have benefited from toning down the lokadharmi (folk) aspects of the production as it lent a pedestrian feel to parts of the performance. With the exception of a few bursts of innovation, the interpretation of the theme was literal and lacked depth. Looking back, although there were aspects that one could remember, the narrative was a bit disjointed and left one with flashes of movement sequences which stood out. It is probably the joining of sections which needs more attention, so that the overall theme emerges strongly.