Performing in Chidambaram is an experience that any dancer would cherish. Mythologically, it is the place where Lord Shiva came and danced the Ananda Tandava, at the request of the sages. The golden temple of Chidambaram finds its way into many traditional songs, thanks to its splendour and history.
When we danced there, one of the pieces we performed was, once again, the much-loved Draupadi Vastra Haran. As usual, I was Dusshasan; this time, my teacher was Shakuni. We were on stage, in the middle of the drama when the music suddenly skipped back. Dancers on stage must never show nervousness, we knew that. The problem was that we had no idea how far back the music had skipped.
That’s when the real drama began. Duryodhan turns to Dusshasan and asks in dance parlance, “Where are we? What part of the music is this?”
Dusshasan calmly replies, “We have a lot of time.”
Yudhishthir, for some reason thinks the song has skipped forward and not back, and hurries with the dance moves.
Duryodhan, laughing heartily at the plight of the Pandavas, convinces Yudhishthir to slow down. Confusion and despair become very real on Yudhishthir’s face. Duryodhan and Dusshasan continue to mock the five brothers.
Duryodhan checks with Dusshasan that the music is still far behind us; it is. So Duryodhan says to Yudhishthir, “You have given me everything. Your jewels, your kingdom, everything. Now what can you give me?”
Bewildered and unhappy, Yudhishthir replies, “I don’t know…”
Finally, the music catches up with us and Duryodhan demands that Draupadi be brought in.
I wonder if the totally unacceptable emotion of relief showed on the Pandavas’ faces.