Kalamandalam Soman, a disciple of Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair, did his guru proud. Soman, following his guru’s style, enacted the role of Duryodhana with élan.
‘Utharaswayamvaram’ is a play penned by the celebrated court musician of Swati Tirunal – Irayimman Thampi. An excerpt from the Mahabharatha, the play has a balanced blend of music and choreographic niceties. The playwright has also deliberately juxtaposed all kinds of characters,except Kari (black beard), in order to retain the attention span of spectators. The first part of this play was staged in Thrissur.
Kalamandalam Soman, a protégé of thespian Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair played Duryodhana. He did full justice to the legacy of his mentor right from the Thiranokku (a prelude to the pathinja sringara padam - love song in adagio). His attention to detail in the padam appealed to the audience. The technique with which he worked out the irattis (dance compositions set at the end of the anupallavi and charanam of padams) was noteworthy.
What deserves special mention is the ‘ekalochanam’ – a passage from the same padam in which he delineated the pangs of separation of a Chakravaka bird. The allusion compares the beauty of Bhanumathi’s (wife of Duryodhana) face, with that of a full moon. The actor changed expressions deftly. The system of alternative acting for ekalochanam was similar to that of Ramankutty Nair, who has structuralised this in his school.
Kalamandalam Venu Mohan, one of the foremost disciples of Kalamandalam Unnikrishnan, an ace Kathakali chenda artiste, accompanied Soman on the chenda. Venu’s intermittent wrist work and legatos enhanced the expressional nuances of ekalochanam. Kalamandalam Harinarayanan supported the artistes on the maddalam. Bhanumathi’s response to this padam is in raga Yadhukulakambhoji.
Nedumpilly Rammohan transposed the raga of the last charanam to Kharaharapriya. Although Kharaharapriya is not a frequent intervention in Kathakali, it didn’t seem detached here. He was supported by Sadanam Jyothish Babu.
Thripayya Pithambharan as Bhanumathi left much to be deserved. When the scene shifted to the royal court, to receive the Dhoothan (messenger) played by Kalamandalam Sudeep, Soman managed the turn very well. Duryodhana’s padam in this scene is ‘Medinipala veeranmaare’ with a valorous streak.
By and large, Kalamandalam Soman fully succeeded by using his creative license to craft a convincing narrative throughout the landscape of the play. Bheeshma’s padam (Kalamandalam Sibi Chakravarthy), which entails a congruent discourse to Duryodhana, was in ragamalika. The last lines were interpreted with the raga Kaapi. Rammohan’s fine control of his voice helped him do justice to the raga. Mundaya Venketakrishna Bhagavathar who introduced many ragas of Carnatic genre to Kathakali had set this in Kharaharapriya. But Rammohan’s propriety was commendable, because he had used Kharaharapriya earlier, he avoided a repetition here.
In the last scene, Nelliyode Vasudevan Namboodiri essayed the role of Thrigartha and Sudeep came as Valala. Kalamandalam Sreeraj and Kalamandalam Unnikrishnan provided additional support on the chenda and the maddalam respectively. The excerpt was staged under the auspices of Thrissur Kathakali Club.