Stalwarts led from the front during an all-night-long Kathakali performance in Thiruvananthapuram.

Keleeravam, a Thiruvananthapuram-based organisation that promotes Kathakali, celebrated its first anniversary with a night-long Kathakali performance at Levy Hall in Krishnavilasam Palace in the capital city. Staging of the plays ‘Nalacharitham Munnam Divasam’, ‘Rajasooyam’, and ‘Kiratham’ was led by stalwarts in the field.

The show began with a traditional Thodayam that provides an opportunity for actors to showcase their stamina and flexibility. Kottakkal Pradeep and R.L.V. Pramod performed the Thodayam with neat movements.

‘Nalacharitham’, the first play performed, had Kottakkal Chandrasekhara Warrier in the lead role of Bahuka (Nala in disguise). The presentation of the padam ‘Kardraveya kula thilaka…’ was an example of his skill and dexterity as an actor. The mood of the character in the play is supposed to be one of grief. Warrier, however, slipped up a bit and was not able to maintain the sthayi of the character. Ettumanur Kannan’s ‘Velutha Nalan’ stood out, especially in the manodharma attam. Veteran actor Nelliyode Vasudevan Nambudiri essayed the role of Karkkodaka with élan. The ‘Thandeta attam’ (a technique in Kathakali where the character itself presents his/her past story) was quite interesting and a lesson for young actors. FACT Padmanabhan, a gifted artiste who specialises in enacting Sudeva Brahmana, performed his signature role, but did not measure up to the expectations of the audience.

Mathur Muralikrishnan’s Damayanthi and Kalamadalam Shanmughan’s Parnadan were captivating and managed to sustain the attention of the audience throughout. Kalamandalam Pradeep’s Rithuparna too was expressive and energetic. Some rarely seen parts of the story were staged, especially towards the end. However, they did not make any impact on the play.

‘Rajasooyam’ (southern style) was the second play performed. Madavoor Vasudevan Nair played the role of King Jarasandha with ease and élan. The role, which is normally performed in the Chuvannathadi style in Kalluvazhi chitta, was performed in Kathi format. Madavoor, who is in his early eighties, showed no signs of fatigue throughout the one-and-a-half hour show. His interaction with the Pandavas and Sreekrishna was excellent.

Kalamandalam Ravikumar and Kalamandalam Hari R. Nair performed the roles of Bhima and Sisupala, respectively. Kalamandalam Sudip (Arjuna) and Pallippuram Sunil (Krishna) also acted. Ettumanur Kannan, Kalamandalam Pradeep and Kalamandalam Shanmughan essayed the three brahmanas and Madhu Varanasi enacted the role of Jarasandha’s wife.

‘Kiratham’ was the final play presented. Kalamandalam Prasanth skillfully enacted Arjuna. Nelliyode as Kattalan was impressive. Haripriya Nambudiri, as Kattalasthree kept him good company. A rare scene, a dialogue between Kattalan (Lord Shiva in disguise) and Kattalasthree in which Lord Shiva explains why his third eye appeared red, was elaborately presented. The Kattalan tells his wife that he was angry because an asura called Mookasura had assumed the form of a wild boar and was chasing Arjuna.

A number of musicians and percussionists contributed to the event. Palanad Divakaran, Kalamandalam Surendran and Kalamandalam Babu Nambudiri were the main singers. Kalamandalam Raman Nambudiri and Kottakkal Prasad were the chenda artistes. Kalamandalam Achutha Warrier and Kalanilayam Prakasan played the maddalam.

It was a sincere effort by each artiste. However, it would have been better if there were more members in the audience to watch them.

Keywords: KeleeravamKathakali