In any theatrical production, the choice of an appropriate artiste suitable for the character and theme plays as important a role as the choice of the subject. The result of this choice is reflected in the outcome of the production. This was evident in Kalakshetra's revival of Swati Tirunal's natya natakam, 'Ajamilopakhyanam' as part of the Swati Tirunal festival.
Hari Padman's sensitive portrayal capturing the varied emotions and dimensions as Ajamila, the brahmin, was translated through the voice of Sai Sankar, whose singing breathed life into the dancer's expressive moods. The pinnacle of this was in the Nadanamakriya composition towards the end, which stood out like a jewel in the crown. The duo shouldered the weight of the production with aplomb.
The story which Swati Tirunal had composed originally for Harikatha was adapted to suit a dance-drama format by Rukmini Devi in her characteristic style. Guru A. Janardhan’s efforts to revive the 1980 production had indeed borne fruit with the dancers presenting an aesthetic work befitting the institution's stature.
The story is that of a pious righteous brahmin, who fall into bad ways due his infatuation for a Kulatha and attains salvation by uttering the name of Narayana (his son's name). There were some memorable moments. A special bond of love and affection between Ajamila and his wife was portrayed so convincingly by the dancers so much so that one wondered how he could desert a wife he adored. The same intensity, however, was not found in the sequences showing his infatuation for Kulatha and the life he leads with her thereafter.
If the presentation sagged, the reason should be attributed to limited scope of the storyline that does not lend itself to be adapted as a dance production, the extended scenes not sustaining the interest of the audience.