In the realm of classical Indian performing arts, specifically within the framework of the Natya Shastra, the ancient text on dramatic theory and performance authored by Bharat Muni, two distinct concepts known as “Dharmi” are elucidated: Natyadharmi and Lokdharmi. These terms are deeply rooted in a nuanced understanding of “Dharm,” a word that has undergone significant evolution in meaning over the centuries.
In the context of Bharat’s time, “dharm” referred to an individual’s inherent virtues and moral principles. It was encapsulated in qualities such as reverence for elders and unwavering honesty. This meaning of “Dharm” contrasts with its modern interpretation, which often revolves around religious practices and obligations. To appreciate the concepts of Natyadharmi and Lokdharmi, comprehending this transformation is essential.
Natyadharmi involves the skillful portrayal of ideas and emotions on stage without resorting to the use of props. In this form, the artist relies solely on their expressions and bodily movements to convey a rich array of scenes and narratives. This technique is most often employed in the domain of dance, where the performer seeks to depict landscapes such as rivers, gardens, and mountains through their intricate choreography. The brilliance of Natyadharmi lies in its ability to establish an emotional connection between the artist’s portrayal and the audience’s perception. Even in the absence of physical representations, the spectators are able to immerse themselves in the depicted environment. For instance, the artist’s enactment of rain-soaked clothes or the sensation of rain itself invokes a shared experience, blurring the boundary between the real and the artistic.
On the other hand, Lokdharmii finds its application primarily in the domain of theatrical acting. This approach permits the use of props and objects to enhance the storytelling and bring the narrative to life. Unlike Natyadharmi, Lokdharmi embraces the utilization of physical elements during the performance. Through the integration of props, the artist can create a more immersive and detailed representation of the narrative. This concept aligns with modern theatrical techniques and is often employed to enhance the realism of a scene.
The notion of Natyadharmi finds resonance in the world of classical Indian dance, particularly in forms like Kathak. During the expressive phase known as Gat-Bhav, artists employ Natyadharmi to convey intricate narratives. For example, the portrayal of the mischievous interactions between Radha and Krishna or the symbolic dance with a matki (pot) is rendered solely through the dancer’s body language and expressions. In such instances, the absence of actual props becomes inconsequential as the artist’s skillful enactment transports the audience into the heart of the narrative.
Fundamentally, Natyadharmi and Lokdharmi represent two contrasting methods of artistic communication, each possessing its own valuable qualities and purposes. Natyadharmi hinges on the artist’s innate skill, effectively portraying complex scenarios through bodily movements and facial cues. Conversely, Lokdharmi capitalizes on props to infuse scenes with a heightened sense of authenticity. These concepts collectively emphasize the depth and adaptability of classical Indian performing arts, highlighting how artistic expression and innovation can transcend constraints, fostering a profound connection between the artist and their audience.
About the Author: – Neha Khunteta
She is one of the best Kathak Trainers in Jaipur and has been associated with it for more than 10 years and the founder of Kathak By Neha the best Kathak dance academy in Jaipur.
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