Veteran artistes proved their mettle on stage yet again at a Kathakali fete in Kottakkal.

The annual dance and music festival of Kottakkal Viswambhara temple was a real feast for rasikas and lovers of classical art forms. The six-day-long festival featured a range of classical programmes such as Kathakali, music concerts, Mohiniyattam recitals, Thayambaka and the like. Arguably, the highlight of the fete was five nights of Kathakali, in which around a hundred artistes performed. Veterans in the fields such as Madavur Vasudevan Nair, Kalamandalam Gopi, Kalamandalam Vasu Pisharodi and Sadanam Krishnankutty performed in the fete.

Madavur, the living legend of Kaplingadan style in Kathakali, essayed the role of Sundarabrahmana in the play ‘Rugminiswayamvaram.’ Though the style is different from the usual, the ace actor breathed life into the character. Kalamandalam Rajasekharan, Madavur’s main disciple, enacted the grief-struck Rukmini. Kalamandalam Krishnakumar enacted Lord Krishna.

Another notable performance was that of Kalamandalam Gopi as Krishna in ‘Kuchelavritham’. Though this is not one of Gopi asan’s favourite roles, his charisma and superb acting took the play to another level. Nelliyode Vasudevan Nambudiri once again donned his masterpiece role of Kuchela. Even though the make-up and costumes appeared shabby, the actor made up for it with his excellent expressions. Vellinezhi Haridas performed as Kuchelapatni.

Kalamandalam Vasu Pisharodi, a versatile performer, was at his best as the majestic Ravana of ‘Rambhapravesham’. Kalamandalam Vijayakumar’s Rambha was aesthetically presented. Sadanam Krishnankutty’s interpretation of the mighty Bali in ‘Balivadham’ was exceptional, albeit it is not one of his usual roles. Kottakkal Devadas, enacting Sugreeva, so enthralled the audience with masterly kalasams that they gave him a resounding round of applause at the end of the performance. Kottakkal Chandrasekhara Warrier played the role of Rugmangada in ‘Rugmangadacharitham’. Sadanam Balakrishnan presented a rather different take of Keechaka in ‘Keechakavadham’, particularly the manodharma attam. Kottakkal Rajmohan enacted the role of Sairandhri.

In the staging of the first part of Irayimman Thampi’s ‘Utharaswayamvaram’, Narippatta Narayanan Nambudiri appeared as Duryodhana, while Kalamandalam Ramachandran Unnithan essayed Thrigartha. Their rapport on stage created a great ambience for the kathi-thadi combination. Kalamandalam Kesavan Nambudiri essayed Lalitha in ‘Poothanamoksham’.

Kalamandalam Balasubramanian, meanwhile, set the stage on fire as Daksha in ‘Dakshayagam’ Kathakali, along with Kavungal Divakaran as Veerabhadra and Kalamandalam Harinarayanan as Siva.

Another notable performance was that of Sadanam Ramankutty as Balabhadra and Kalamandalam Sreekumar as Krishna in ‘Subhdraharanam’. Kottakkal Sudheer’s riveting portrayal of Parasurama was another standout performance of the day. The fete was organised by Arya Vaidyasala, Kottakkal.