According to the Mahabharata, Abhimanyu enters the ‘padmavyuha’ or the ‘chakravyuha’ but cannot get out, despite his strength and valour. “Sometimes letting go of the body is the soul’s way of finding escape,” says Belraj Soni whose Yuddha Kaandam is based on Abhimanyu’s struggle, which according to Soni is similar to the every day battles and confrontations that man goes through and eventually surrenders his body to free his soul.
The artiste from Kerala will stage his recent production — which combines contemporary dance with ancient combat technique Kalaripayattu — at National Centre for the Performing Arts. The title, Yuddha Kaandam, literally translates to “chapter from the war”.
To tell the story of Abhimanyu, the artiste has chosen to employ a confluence of dance and martial arts since both forms are performative in nature and train the body and mind to be free — the very theme of the piece. “To make the narrative more universal, we have set some sequences in dance theatre style as well,” says Soni, who has over 30 years of practice in the traditional martial art form. Soni’s workshops in Mumbai have become a permanent fixture on the culture calendar in the city over the last three years.