A dance and music festival in Kozhikode was a display of fine acts and performances.

A memorable Melappadam was the high point of a three-day cultural programme held at Padmasree Auditorium, Thali, Kozhikode. Two evenings of Kathakali performances and a captivating jugalbandhi provided a veritable feast for art aficionados.

On the first day, Aswathi Thirunal’s ‘Rugminiswayamvaram’ was staged. It narrates the story of the marriage of Lord Krishna and Rugmini. Usually, while staging the play, certain scenes such as Rugmini’s meeting with the Brahmin, his efforts to bring Krishna and Rugmini together, and the wedding scene are enacted. In this recital, the battle between Krishna and Sisupala was also performed.

The central character of the play, ‘Sundarabrahmin’, was enacted by FACT Padmanabhan. Padmanabhan, a gifted actor, essayed his role well with touches of improvisation. Ettumanur P. Kannan donned the role of Lord Krishna while Kalamandalam Vijayakumar essayed the role of Rugmini. Kalamandalam Vysakh donned the role of Sisupala. Kalamandalam Babu Nambudiri and Kalamandalam Vinod were the singers.

The highlight of the second day of the fete was a jugalbandhi by Sreevalsan J. Menon (Carnatic musician), Kottakal Madhu (Kathakali musician) and Ambalappuzha Vijayakumar (Asthapadi). Their selection of ragas and padams was impressive.

A night-long Kathakali recital was the finale on the third day. The show began with a purappad and melappadam. Kathakali singers Kottakal Madhu and Vengeri Narayanan, Kalamandalam Krishnadas and Kottakkal Prasad on the chenda, and Kottakkal Ravi and Kottakkal Radhakrishnan on the maddalam enthralled the audience with their mix of vocals and percussion. ‘Chala malaya mridu pavana...’, sung in raga malika, was a superb blend of aesthetic finesse and virtuosity.

The three Kathakali performances that followed comprised excerpts from ‘Poothanamoksham’ and ‘Nalacharitham Randam Divasam’ – and staging of ‘Narakasuravadham’.

Sudha Krishnanunni, a paediatrician and Kathakali artiste, donned the role of Poothana. The 65-year-old performed the role effortlessly.

The excerpt from ‘Nalacharitham’ featured the discourse between Kattalan and Damayanthi, wherein he makes a pass at her; she curses him and reduces him to ash.

Madavur Vasudevan Nair’s role as Kattalan was noteworthy. The fiery performance of Nakrathundi by Kottakkal Devadas gave a superb start to the tale of Narakasura and his sister. Kottakkal Unnikrishnan played the role of Jayantha with élan. However, Kottakkal Vasudevan, who enacted Lalitha (Nakrathundi in disguise), was not up to the mark. Kottakkal Kesavan Kundalayar as Narakasura did justice to his role. His mudras and movements were perfect.

Kathakali vocalists Kottakkal Narayanan and Kottakkal Santhosh and Kottakkal Vijayaraghavan and Kottakkal Maneesh on the chenda contributed to the success of the play.

The programme was organised as part of the 24th anniversary celebrations of Thodayam Kathakali Yogam.