Margi's fete featured Kathakali, Koodiyattam and Nangiarkoothu performances.

A four-day festival of classical theatre was organised by Margi, Thiruvananthapuram, as part of a programme to hone the skills of artistes of the institution. Two evenings of Kathakali (‘Karthaveeryarjunavijayam') and one performance each of Koodiyattam (‘Subhadradhanajayam') and Nangiarkoothu (‘Sreeramacharitham') were staged during the event. The Koodiyattam and Nangiarkoothu performances were organised with the help of the Sangeet Natak Akademi.

‘Karthaveeryarjunavijayam,' written by Puthiyikkal Thampan, is rarely performed on stage these days because of its length and its similarity to Kallur Nambudiripad's ‘Balivijayam.' The story is around seven-and-a-half hours long and is suitable for an all-night performance. At Margi, parts two and three of the play were staged on two days.

The story narrates the defeat of Ravana by King Karthaveeryarjuna, with the help of Narada.

The performance started with the traditional Thiranottam of Ravana. The following scene depicts Mandodari sleeping peacefully on Ravana's lap. However, she is rudely awakened and her husband, Ravana, tries to pacify her in vain. An upset Ravana recites the padam ‘Kamaladala lochane...' in raga Padi. A remorseful Mandodari explains that she rebuffed Ravana because she dreamt of him romancing the apsaras, especially Urvashi. On hearing this, Ravana consoles her with the padam ‘Dasiyakum Urvashiye...' This two-hour performance was staged on the first day of the festival.

Preparing for battle

On the second day, mischief-maker Narada tells Ravana that a king named Karthaveeryarjuna had belittled the Lord of Lanka. A chagrined Ravana decides to attack Karthaveeryarjuna. All the padams and attams in this scene appear similar to the story of ‘Balivijayam.' The following scene, in which Ravana meets his chief minister Chithrayodi, is quite similar to a scene in ‘Uttaraswayamvaram' where Duryodhana meets his Thrigarthan. Chithrayodhi's costume is designed in Chuvannathadi style and is very similar in appearance to Thrigarthan. In the last scene both Ravana and Chithrayodhi march with the army to meet Karthaveeryarjuna in battle.

Margi Ratheesan played the lead role of Ravana with élan on both days. Ratheesan, an alumnus of Kerala Kalamandalam, skilfully executed the mudras, which were choreographed in a slow pace, all the while keeping the tempo alive. His performance of the attam ‘Kailasodharanam,' though, was nothing spectacular. Ratheesan displayed his stamina and strength in the scenes with Chithrayodhi.

Margi Harivalsan's Mandodari was a good act, but he lacked perfection in delivery of mudras, which diminished the quality of the performance.

Margi Peethambaran's Narada, though, came alive with precise mudras and movements. Chithrayodhi was essayed by Margi Suresh. His stout body, his roar and his expressive eyes were spot on for a Chuvannathadi vesham. In the ‘Padappurappad' attam his performance was not up to the mark.

Melodic feats

Margi Krishnan Kutty rendered the lyrics with appropriate bhava; some of his renderings, especially in raga Padi, were exceptional. Margi Damu and Margi Nandakumar supported him. Margi Venugopal and Margi Krishnakumar on the chenda, and Margi Ratnakaran, Margi Raveendran and Margi Aneesh on the maddalam also gave good support.

On the third day ‘Subhadradhananjayam' Koodiyattam was performed. It narrates the meeting between Subhadara, sister of Lord Krishna, and Arjuna. Margi Raveendran enacted Arjuna. His portrayal of the ‘Kesadipadavarnana' attam stood out. Margi Sindhu portrayed Subhadra with proper bhava. Margi Narayanan's excellent enactment of Vidushaka was the highlight of the performance.

Margi Usha's ‘Sreeramacharitham' Nangiarkoothu was staged on the final day of the fete. The text, written and choreographed by Margi Sathi, is now a popular one among performers. Usha enacted the scenes featuring Bharata and Kaikeyi. Usha's Pakarnattams were good.

The two-hour play concluded with Bharata's decision to go to the forest and meet his brother Rama, who is in exile. Margi Unnikrishnan Nambiar led the percussion with Ramanunni and Sajikumar on the mizhavu, and Margi Mohanan and Margi Unnikrishnan on the thimila and the edakka, respectively.

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