Uthareeyam is a new organisation that aims to promote Kerala’s art forms.
Kathakali is going to be a regular feature for Chennai-ites, thanks to the efforts of Uthareeyam, an initiative started by a few youngsters to promote various art forms of Kerala including Koodiyattam and Chakyarkoothu in the city. This group hopes to organise similar performances at regular intervals which will give budding artists an opportunity to perform. Plans are also on to increase the membership and make it a full fledged cultural promotion organisation.
Uthareeyam recently presented ‘Duryodhanavadham’, a Kathakali play by Vayskara Mooss at Asan Memorial School. On the occasion, Sadanam Bhasi was felicitated for having been conferred The Black Box Award from Butler University, U.S., for his outstanding contribution to Kathakali. In fact, Bhasi is the first person outside the U.S. to have been chosen for this award.
‘Duryodhanavadham’ began with the scene where Panchaali, disrobed by Dussasana, pleads with Krishna not to act as a mediator, so that her vow to tie her hair only with the blood of Dussasana can be fulfilled. Sadanam Bhasi played the role of Krishna and Kalamandalam Jishnu Ravi donned the role of Panchaali.
The play progressed through subsequent scenes of Krishna’s failed mediation efforts with the Kauravas and the impending war where Bheema kills Duryodhana and Dussasana. The role of Roudrabheeman was effortlessly enacted by veteran artist-guru Sadanam Balakrishnan.
It was a memorable experience to watch Balakrishnan portray the valour and resolve to kill the Kauravas, pacify Panchali and the subsequent grief and perplexity at having to kill his own brethren. Duryodhana’s role was ably played by Kalamandalam Neeraj and Sadanam Vishnu Prasad was Dussasana.
One of the founder members of Uthareeyam, Killimangalam Narayanan was both Dhritarashtra and Mumukshu.
Music was handled by Kalamandalam Vinod and Nedumbally Rammohan. With support from percussion artists Sadanam Ramakrishnan and Sadanam Jithin (chenda), and Sadanam Devadas, Kalamandalam Hariharan and Biju Attupuram (maddalam).
The next programme by Uthareeyam will be the staging of ‘Santhanagopalam’ by Kottakkal Chandrasekhara Wariar and party on August 18, 6 p.m., at Sopanam, Ayyappan temple, Madhavan Nair Road, Mahalingapuram. This is a curtain-raiser to the Onam celebrations.