Annie Johnson’s ‘Mathurapravesam’ had its share of highs and lows.
‘Mathurapravesam’, an act in ‘Sreekrishna Charitham’ Nangiarkoothu, describes how Krishna and his elder brother Balarama enter Mathura, the kingdom of Kamsa.
Annie Johnson, a student of Margi Sathi, chose to perform this segment at the Museum Auditorium, Thiruvananthapuram.
The performance started with a samkshepa in which the artiste presented the situation of the story in brief. Krishna and Balarama travel to Mathura along with Akrura, who was sent by Kamsa to invite them for the ‘Dhanuryajna’. On the outskirts of Mathura, they meet Kubja, a hunchback, and Malakaran, a seller of garlands. Pleased by their devotion, Krishna cures Kubja of her physical disability and makes Malakaran rich. In this segment, Annie made best use of the technique of pakarnattam and convincingly acted the roles of Krishna, Kubja and Malakaran in turn.
Annie performed with ease the portions that depict Krishna and Balarama killing Simhabala, the guard to the entrance of the tower where a sacred bow was kept and worshipped. Eventually, Krishna breaks the bow and destroys all the other weapons in store. In places where the pace picked up, she struggled a bit to keep in step with the rhythm.
Similarly, she faltered in the scene which deals with the slaying of
Kuvalayapida, the gigantic elephant.
The act could have been much more detailed and intense. To make things worse, her headgear became loose and kept slipping down from her head.
“Although Annie has been learning the art form for more than eight years, this is only her fifth stage in Nangiarkoothu,” said Sathi.
Prior to the performance, Sathi briefly explained the story and illustrated major mudras to be used in this act, making it easy for the audience to understand and appreciate the art form. Annie was well supported by percussionists Kalamandalam Sajikumar and Mahesh (mizhavu), Kalamandalam Mohanan (thimila), Anayara Vijayan (edakka) and Vishishta (cymbals).
The programme was organised by the Koodiyattam Kendra of Sangeet Natak Akademi and Department of Museums & Zoos, Government of Kerala.