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Understanding Shaki

So I assume it's true when I say that most dancers don't bother too much with Shabdam these days. Once you learn it as a kid you kind of move on to the padams and varnams. So I have been on this quest to understand the Bharathanatyam technique and margam as it is popularly practiced in this day and age. So literally I restarted my margam from Pushpanjali again and I'm actually going as far as relearning all my adavus and everything between.

I suppose I never felt like I gave Bharathanatyam the detailed attention it'd deserved. So for me it's all about understanding everything.

During this quest, I came across Shabdam.

Now I've done "Aayar Sheriyar" when I was like 7 years old and since then, this is the first shabdam I've learned, Aadum Mayil- thanil. My dear Rama miss taught this to me at Naatyasankalpa.

Funny enough 2nd verse and 3rd verse were embedded in my head no problem. The 2nd verse reminded me of the Bhakti padam Kaa Vaa Vaa. It was about the Bhaktas of Muruga, hence it came to me naturally. The 3rd verse also I was able to imagine the story it was about Valli. All good.. it flowed.

First verse though... seriously, I don't know.. Ive tried it for the past 4 years and honestly just did not stick to my head. My teachers have been mind boggled along with me as to why I found this simple line so complicated.

So the other day I'm like in practice session determined to conquer this, I had to get to the bottom of it.

Its about Murugan's lover spending time with him and her Shaki ( friend) gets angry when she sees this. The line is

Aadum Mayil thanil,

Naadum Murugani,

Needum Kalaviyil,

Kooda en manam

Jaadi Kandu Nee

Modi Seivathu


I would kind of get the first time this is said, then I just got lost. I just could not connect to it.

The one question that recurred in my head, why was shaki looking at them? The thing is I left it there, I didn't bother go beyond that until now. See Im not one to mechanically take a line and just do the mudras for it. I have to have an entire story in front of me. Back story and all! Perks of being a film maker.

SO... I literally had to understand her. I literally sat and wrote a script for Murugan, his lover and Shaki, I found that especially fleshing out Shaki's character as the jealous friend really helped.

I also had to set the scene for each line: Where were they? Was it a moon lit night? Was it by the water? What was Shaki doing there? What was her mission statement before she entered the place where the two lovers were embracing. How did she enter the scene? What was she doing just before she reacted? Also the embrace the lovers had, had to match the scene!

And finally!! after 4 years of trying to dance shabdam, once I understood my Shaki, the story finally sunk in and I finally competed the dance.

Moral of the story! Do not underestimate the Shabdam!! or the Shaki ;)

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