Nangiarkoothu Margi Usha's ‘Darikavadham' was choreographed by the danseuse herself.
When ‘Darikavadham' was performed at the Thozhuvancode Devi Kshetram, Thiruvananthapuram, for Margi Usha it was an offering on two counts. The most obvious was to seek the blessing of the presiding deity, and the second because the ‘angry goddess' was her kuladevata.
The idea of working on a Bhadrakali theme first caught her fancy when she performed the Anthakan from the ‘Markandayacharitam' at the Sharkara Ksethram. Those who appreciated the performance exhorted her to venture into the Bhadrakali themes that offered immense potential for a Nangiarkoothu performance. With no known performance manual available on the Bhadrakali theme, Margi Usha started researching on the Darika legend.
Scope for emotions
Beginning with a single dhyana sloka on Bhadrakali that she could lay her hands on she structured the performance.
“I have broken up the whole work into seven episodes, spanning the birth of Darika to the final Kailashayatra. In this performance I chose the confrontation between the demon Darika and Kali. This particular piece offers ample opportunity for an expression of Roudram, Bheebatsam, Bhayanakam, and Karunam, making it exciting for me.”
The myth goes thus: The demon Darika wrecks havoc all over earth and heaven. Acting on Lord Brahma's advise, the Bhagwati, comes into being; Kali battles with Darika and frees the earth of the asura.
According to Usha, the highpoints of the performance were the manner in which Bhadrakali lures Darikan out of the cave, a part which calls for a total calm expression in contrast to the overwhelmingly aggressive moods required of her to display the fury and the other was the predominantly roudram-filled expression of the Goddess' wrath and her killing of Darika.
“There was a constant urge in me to render a flawless presentation, because this was my maiden performance of a composition that I had ventured to create on my own,” says Usha.
Speaking about efforts in fleshing out the episode with appropriate slokas, she remembers with gratitude the support she received from Ajith Kumar of Mahatma Gandhi College, Thiruvananthapuram, who is researching on the Bhadrakali myth.
Unnikrishnan and Margi Saji Kumar (mizhavu), Sreevarahom Ashokan (edakka) and Kumari Neenuvina (taalam) lent fitting support to the performance.