‘Bhagavadajjukam’ Koodiyattam entertained rasikas with its mix of wit and satire.
The only play that has been presented a maximum number of times on Koodiyattam stages is Bodhayana’s prahasana ‘Bhagavadajjukam’. The credit for the wide popularity of the play goes to Paimkulam Damodara Chakyar, the doyen who was instrumental in introducing Koodiyattam in Kerala Kalamandalam in 1965, thereby throwing overboard caste restrictions that confined Sanskrit theatre to certain castes.
Rama Chakyar was also the first among the traditional class of performers to realise the theatrical beauty of Koodiyattam that was generally treated only as a ritualistic performance. He edited ‘Bhagavadajjukam’ (that used to be presented in 36 days) to be completed in three hours, but retained its essential theatrical elements.
The play was staged by Kairali Arts Academy, a communion of the alumni of Kalamandalam, at Kalatharangini Auditorium, Cheruthuruthy. It was their tribute to him on his 33rd death anniversary. Further, it was the maiden attempt of Kalamandalam students to enact the historic play in full. Their gurus Kalamandalam Girija and Kalamandalam Shylaja who had turned up for the show averred, “It was for the first time that we are among the audience to watch ‘Bhagavadajjukam’ as we were always on the stage whenever and wherever the play was presented in the past”.
While the performance in general was laudable, much room was left for improvement owing to want of rehearsals. Still, their commitment to promote the theatre form was commendable. The artistes included Krishnakumar (Bikshu), Kanakakumar (Sandilya), Prasanna (Vasantasena), Rasmi (Parabruthika), Charu Agaru (Yamapurusha), Rajish (Ramilaka), Vipin (physician) and Divya (mother). Achuthanandan led the team of mizhavu artistes including Dhanarajan and Abijosh. Sukumaran played the edakka.