‘Sree Sakthi Vijayam’, a new play, celebrates the spirit of womanhood through the tale of Mahishasura’s defeat at the hands of Goddess Mahishasuramardini.

In the last 50 years, Kathakali has witnessed several unprecedented changes and developments in its presentation, writing and even choreography. Although this came as a boon to several writers and artistes, only Mali’s ‘Karnasapatham’ became popular among rasikas. P. Venugoplan's ‘Krishnaleela’ and Vaikom P. Rajasekharan's ‘Arjunavishada vritham’ have gained acceptance in the last two decades. Now, Rajasekharan has come up with a new attakatha, ‘Sree Sakthi Vijayam’. The play was premiered at the Vaikom Mahadeva Temple recently. Rajasekharan, an engineer by profession, once again proved his mettle as an attakkatha writer.

‘Sree Sakthi Vijayam’, a two-and-a-half-hour-long play, narrates the tale of Mahishasura and his death at the hands of Mahishasuramardini. Mahishasura gains a boon from Lord Brahma that makes him invulnerable to attacks from men. On the strength of this boon he defeats Devendra. The Devas pray for the end to Mahishasura’s reign. Goddess Mahishasuramardini appears as the answer to their prayers. The Goddess assumes the role of the beautiful Mohini and eventually kills Mahishasura.

The play was presented in a ‘flashback’ format – perhaps a first in the history of Kathakali. The initial scene depicts princess Madhumozhi worrying over the state of women in the universe. It is then that her friends narrate the story of Mahishasura and convince her of the power of womanhood to battle all adversities. The story of Mahishasura begins here.

The three main roles – Mahisha, Mohini and Mahishasuramardini – were performed by Kottakkal Chandrasekhara Warrier, Kalamandalam Rajasekharan and Kalamandalam Balasubramanian, respectively. Warrier easily portrayed the cruel Mahishasura with his signature gestures and roars. His attam at the beginning of the scene was as interesting as it was perfect. Mahisha’s first scene where he meets Narada reminded one of a similar scene in ‘Balivijayam’. The scene where Mahisha meets Mohini was particularly good, especially in its lyrical quality. Kalamandalam Rajasekharan’s Mohini looked beautiful and was well-presented. Balasubramanian’s Mahishasuramardini was the pick of the play, despite the challenge of not having a set attire, make-up or a role model to base the character on. Balasubramanian himself designed the costume and make-up.

The scene where Mahishasuramardini appears with torches blazing in the foreground was spectacular.

The quality and musicality of the lyrics were the other attractions of the play. A number of different ragas were used in the play. The lyrics of the sari dance is a testament to the writer’s skill at melody. Vocalists Kottakkal Madhu, Kalamandalam Babu Nambudiri and Kalamandalam Vinod performed their roles with élan. ‘Kiratham’ Kathakali was also organised with Kalamandalam Prasanth and Pallippuram Sunil in the main roles. Kurur Vasudevan Nambudiri and Kalamandalam Sankara Warrier performed on the chenda and maddalam, respectively.