Friday Review » Theatre

Updated: February 12, 2010 09:37 IST

Cadences of Kathakali

Vinu Vasudevan
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Nandakumaran Nair as Ravana.
Nandakumaran Nair as Ravana.

Event Purappad, Melappadam and a performance of ‘Ravanolbhavam' attracted Kathakali fans in Palakkad.

Kathakali buffs in Palakkad were treated to some enthralling music by veteran Kathakali vocalist Kalamandalam Gangadharan. A disciple of the late Neelakandan Nambissan, Gangadharan is perhaps the senior-most among Kathakali singers today. The septuagenarian was at his best during the double 'purappad and melappadam'.

The exponent of an old bani in Kathakali music melodiously rendered the padams without any unnecessary frills.

His signature style of rendering the padam ‘Ramapalayamam hare...' in Bhairavi stood out for its subtle but imaginative improvisations. He was in full swing during the ‘Melappadam' and he came up with a memorable rendering of the padam ‘Manjuthara' in Mohanam. The rendering of ‘Navabhava' in Kalyani led to a classic ‘Chalamalaya mrudupavana' in Abheri.

Stellar rendering

Without experimenting with ragas or tradition, the singer proved that he could still carry the audience without playing to the gallery. Kottakkal P.D. Nambudiri accompanied the veteran singer.

The double percussion team lead by Panamanna Sasi and Sadanam Ramakrishnan (chenda) and Sadanamm Sreedharan and Cherpulassery Hariharan (maddalam) also played a significant role to make this event a success. Sasi's fluency and accuracy and Ramakrishna's masterly beats matched the performance of the maddalam players.

After the melappadam, ‘Ravanolbhavam Kathakali' was staged by Kottakkal Nandakumaran Nair. The attakkatha written by Kallekulangara Raghava Pisharodi deals with Ravana's severe penance to please Brahma and win a boon that would make him a powerful ruler.

The play begins with Ravana in a contemplative mood. He recalls the circumstances that made him relentlessly seek power to become the mighty lord of Lanka. Nandakumaran Nair could not rise up to the expectations of the audience.

Kalamandalam Arun Warrier and Kalamandalam Kuttikrishnan enacted Vibheeshana and Kumbhakarna respectively.

The melam was handled well by the percussionists Kalamandalam Raman Nambudiri (chenda) and Kalamandalam Sasi (maddalam). The programme was organised by Mudrakhya.

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