Artistes from Kerala came up with soulful and moving presentations of some of Rabindranath Tagore's works on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of the poet.

When Sangeet Natak Akademi decided to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, artistes from Kerala came up with some outstanding performances in the Katha Kavya segment – the most innovative of all the segments.

The artistes combined their traditional arts and the literature of Tagore to present something very contemporary.

Nangiarkoothu was the idiom that was to portray Rabindranath Tagore's ‘Chitra.' Chitra, the female character that Tagore adapted from the Mahabharata, has stood the test of time. And therein lies the genius of Tagore who is not for an age, but for all times. Young Nangiarkoothu artiste Kapila Venu presented ‘Chitra.'

Story of Chitrangada

In the story, the warrior princess Chitrangada is smitten by Arjuna. Although he rejects her initially, she wins him over with her newly acquired charm bestowed upon her by Kamadeva (the God of love). Having heard much about the warrior Chitrangada - and ignorant of the other side of the woman who is with him - Arjuna is impatient to meet her. Chitrangada reveals herself as one who is his equal and worthy of respect.

Kapila interpreted the story in great detail using the technique of Pakarnattam to enact the roles of the different characters. Kalamandalam Rajeev and Kalamandalam Hariharan were on the mizhavu and Kalamandalam Unnikrishnan on the edaka while Attaprakaram was by Kapila's father, G. Venu.

Then it was Gopika Varma's turn to explore the characters of Ahalya from Tagore's ‘Ahalyar Prati' and Kunti from ‘Karna-Kunti Sambad' in Mohiniyattam style.

Gopika's graceful presentation of Ahalya was moving. Ahalya, the wife of sage Gautama, was deceived by the infatuated Indra who impersonated Gautama and seduced her. Gautama accused her of infidelity and his curse turned her into stone. She had to wait for Lord Rama to redeem her from the curse.

Kunthi's plight

The story of Kunthi who hid the fact that Karna was her son, and who suffered on account of it, was poignantly depicted by Gopika, with her expressive face trained in the art of abhinaya. In delineating the eternal dilemmas and emotions of the human mind, the poetic lines were emoted in detail with great sensitivity, without actually using the words of the text again.

Once again, Gireesh Sopanam established the fact that great art is more than a treat for the eye or a tonic for the spirit. It is rather an expression of the soul of a people. Gireesh, a theatre artiste at the Sopanam Institute of Performing Arts and Research in Thiruvananthapuram, used the essence of Tagore's poetry - without actually using his words - to make his statement, ‘The world view of cosmic man thus begins in you and ends in you.'

His enactment of the pieces showed human beings as fire-flies, whose search for self realisation begins when their lights fail. Then Gireesh uses the imagery of the man who goes from door to door with his begging bowl only to be confronted by the king of kings stretching his hands to him for alms, revealing how rich the so-called beggar is. Thus Gireesh presented both ‘Khud' and ‘khuda.'