Prateeksha Kashi gave a stunning performance, in fact among the best Kuchipudi in recent times

A Kuchipudi recital by Prateeksha Kashi was part of The Every Friday Cultural Evening Programme held last week at Yavanika, Bangalore, under the auspices of ICCR and the Department of Kannada and Culture.

The evening began with an invocation to Lord Ganesha, "Jayajaya Jithavairi" set to Hamsadhwani raga and aditala.

Excellent footwork, grace and perfection of movement accentuated by an attractive stage presence were manifest in the jathiswaram in Vasantha raga and aditala that followed. A shabdam delineating the story of Rama from birth to coronation, and the succeeding pravesha daruvu introducing the character of Sathyabhama, consort of Lord Krishna, were rooted in tradition, while the Swathi Thirunal composition “Shankara Shrigirinatha Prabhu” set to Hamsanandi raga was an outstanding item replete with striking nritta based on jathi passages that suggested the awesome power of Shiva's tandava.

“Mohini Avathara”, from the Yakshagana “Ksheerasagara Manthana”, was an alluring depiction of the advent of Mohini, incorporating a few dramatic moments. The concluding Devi Tharangam “Jaya Jaya Durge”, extolling the Mother Goddess as the primordial source of all life, was beautifully choreographed with several rounds of exacting jathi sequences on the brass plate, cued in at “Sarasamani Noopura”, bearing testimony to sound training, dedication, and admirable stamina. Though brief emotive elements were present in some of the pieces, inclusion of an intensely abhinaya-centric item would have further enriched the recital. Brilliant nattuvangam from Vyjayanthi Kashi was ably supported by Ramya Suraj (vocal), Nataraja Murthy (violin), Shankar Raman (veena) and Lingaraju (mridanga).

Excerpts from the Kathakali play “Nalacharitham – Second Day”, were staged recently by the Bangalore Club for Kathakali and the Arts, and Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, after the ‘Captain Krishnan Nair Award – Abhinaya Chakravarthy' was conferred on Kalamanadalam Gopi at a ceremony that also honoured Kottakkal Nandakumar.

The performance began with the dramatic entry of Kali and Dwapara, and included Nala's game of dice against Pushkara and the ensuing loss of his kingdom, exile and abandonment of Damayanthi, whose travails are intensified by the amorous advances of the Kattalan, whom she curses and turns to ashes.

Though the compressed sequence of events, and the very brief interpretations of padams like ‘Orunaalum Niroopithamalle', necessitated by the time constraints of the occasion, may be unacceptable to die hard aficionados, the presentation was impressive, especially as an introduction to the magnificence of Kathakali.

The sheer variety of characters represented by costumes such as Karutha Thadi (Kali), Pacha (Nala), Minukku (Damayanthi) and Kari (Kattalan), and the plethora of poignant incidents, effectively portrayed by a set of accomplished artistes, provided glimpses into the greatness of the genre and of the play.

Subdued lighting, ideally suited to the resplendent attire and iridescent make up, was definitely one of the highlights of the evening.

The cast comprised Krishnakumar (Nala), Margi Vijayakumar ( Damayanthi), Kalamandalam Ramchandran Unnithan (Kali ), Kalamandalam Hari R. Nair ( Dwapara), Kalamandalam Sucheendran ( Indra), Kottakkal Nandakumar (Kattalan) and Kalamadalam Pradeep (Pushkara), Pathiyoor Sankarankutty and Babu Namboothiri (vocal), Kalamandalam Unnikrishnan (chenda) and Kottakkal Ravi (maddalam).