‘Kalyanasougandhikam’ Kathakali, staged in Thrissur, was an aesthetic display of dramatic dynamism.
‘Kalyanasougandhikam’, the third play written by Kottayam Thampuran, reflects the beauty and complexity of his language, polished and honed, as he continues the tale of the Pandavas’ sojourn in the forest. Scenes nine and 10 of ‘Kalyanasougandhikam’ are generally performed, in which Vayu (God of Wind) plays the protagonist. The polarisation between the sons of Vayu – Bheema and his elder brother Hanuman – is clearly established here.
It is Kottayam Thampuram who brought to fore a well-defined structure for ‘pathinja padam’ in Kathakali. Kalamandalam Shanmukhan, in the ‘pathinja sringara padam’ (love song in adagissimo) ‘Panchala Raja thanaye…,’ rendered an exquisite aural portrayal of Bheema. While travelling through the forest, the Pandava wanted to spend some time with his consort Panchali (played by Kalamandalam Vaisakhan).
Shanmukhan’s ‘vesham’ was a cynosure for all eyes. Also, he performed splendidly the ‘iratti’ set in 24 rhythmic cycles. Vaisakhan played his part rather well too. In his second padam (‘Maanchenmizhiyale…’), Shanmukhan’s depiction of the catharsis in the accelerando of the second movement was not well received.
Sadanam Bhasi showcased a spirited performance in the role of Hanuman right from his entry. It was interesting to watch the unique blend of two schools of Kathakali – Kalamandalam and Sadanam – conversing on the stage. Bhasi, in the padam ‘Ariha varunnathivanaarumethirillayo…,’ retained the freshness and joie de vivre of the ‘ashtakalasam’ (a series of eight dance compositions) at ‘Manasi mama kimapi bhatha…’ that was systematised by Keezhpadam Kumaran Nair, who was the apostle of this segment. Sadanam Ramakrishnan supported him adeptly for his offbeat and intricate foot work. Kalamandalam Rajnarayanan’s hands on the maddalam were equally commendable.
The uncomplicated way in which Bhasi presented some of the narrations from the epics was beautifully contrasted with the purity of his lyrical enactment. Thiruvalla Gopi Kuttan Nair maintained the traditional tinge in his rendition; whereas Kottakkal Santhosh was flush with ravishing colours of modernity.
The performance was organised under the aegis of Thrissur Kathakali Club.