A staging of ‘Santhanagopalam' Kathakali in Kozhikode was an opportunity for veteran actor Kalamandalam Vasu Pisharodi to showcase his masterpiece role of the Brahmin.

Mandavappalli Ittyraricha Menon's ‘Santhanagopalam' attakatha stands out for its literature and music, and also provides ample scope for acting.

The dominant mood of the play is bhakti, and it depicts the tale of a Brahmin's devotion to Lord Krishna. All nine of the Brahmin's children die soon after birth. The helpless father goes to the Yadava court to seek Lord Krishna's help. On hearing the Brahmin's plight, the proud Arujna vows – and later fails – to protect the next child from death. Lord Krishna steps in before Arjuna can take his life in repentance and restores the Brahmin's 10 children to him.

Spectacular performances

The story of ‘Santhanagopalam' became popular in the past on account of some spectacular performances by Kathakali maestros Vazhenkada Kunju Nair and Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair who popularised the roles of Brahmin and Arjuna, respectively. Their excellent working relationship played a big part in its success. Later on, the duo of Kalamandalam Padmanabhan Nair as Brahmin and Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair as Arjuna set the standard on stage. In more recent times it has been Kalamandalam Vasu Pisharodi who has made a mark as the Brahmin.

‘Santhanagopalam' was performed at the Guruvayurappan Hall, Tali, Kozhikode, in connection with the birth centenary celebrations of the Zamorin of Calicut.

Veteran's stamp

Veteran actor Vasu Pisharodi performed his masterpiece role with ease. The first scene (the second in the play), in which the Brahmin enters the Yadava court with the body of his child, was notable. His enactment of the padam ‘Ha Ha Karomi…' with perfect manodharma attams was reminiscent of the acting of his guru, Kunju Nair. In the last scene, his enactment of the padam ‘Jayikka, Jayikka, Krishna…' was rich in emotion.

Vasu Pisharodi's disciple Ettumanur Kannan donned the role of the egoistic Arjuna with ease. Right from the first padam, ‘Nadha Bhaval Charana…,' Kannan showcased his skills; particularly noteworthy were his refined manodharma attams. RLV Pramod performed the role of Krishna. Kalamandalam Arunraj enacted the role of Brahmana patni.

Sadanam Harikumar and Sadanam Jyothish Babu were the singers. Harikumar's choice of ragas enlivened the three-hour-long play. Kalamandalam Balaraman and Kalamandalam Narayanan Nambisan played the chenda and the maddalam, respectively.

The programme was organised by Thodayam Kathakali Yogam.