The premiere of Sadanam Harikumar’s ‘Karnaparithyagam’ and the staging of ‘Balivadham’ were the highlights of a fete in Palakkad.

‘Karnaparithyagam’ and ‘Balivadham’ were staged in a night-long Kathakali programme at Gandhi Seva Sadanam at Peroor, near Palakkad.

It was the premiere of ‘Karnaparithyagam’, a new play written and choreographed by Sadanam K. Harikumar. His creative touch was evident in every aspect of the play, which narrates the circumstances leading to the birth of Karna and his abandonment by his mother. It explains why Kunthi, Karna’s unwed mother, was forced to abandon him.

Harikumar effectively converted this small but emotional theme into a dramatic Kathakali play. The play begins with the entry of the hot-tempered sage Durvasa into the palace of King Kunthi bhoja and concludes with Kunthi deserting her son in a river.

Harikumar structured this story into a four-hour-long Kathakali paly with marvellous music and dance. The two major roles of Durvasa and Kunthi were performed by Sadanam Balakrishnan and Kalanilayam Gopalakrishnan. Balakrishnan lived his character on stage as he portrayed the tempestuous sage with a golden heart.

But for the costume of the sage, which could have been designed in keeping with the nature of the character, the actor was on mark all through the act. Although Gopalakrishnan tended to go overboard in certain scenes, he got his act together to essay the woes of Kunthi, especially in the last two scenes.

Harikumar’s creativity stood him good in the scene featuring the Sun god and Kunthi. Kalanilayam Balan (Kunthibhoja), Sadanam Manikantan (Sun god) and Sadanam Suresh were the other artistes in the play. Harikumar’s selection of apt ragas for the padams and its rendering deserve kudos. He was accompanied by Sadanam Sivadas.

An exert from Kottarakkara Thampuran's ‘Balivadham’ followed. Beginning with Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana reaching the forest, the play narrated the story of Bali’s death. Sadanam Bhasi did a good job as Rama. Sadanam Krishnadas' Bali was marvellous. Kalamandalam Hari R. Nair donned the role of Sugreeva.

Kalamandalam Narayanan Nambudiri, Sadanam Shyaman and Sadanam Jyothish Babu were the musicians. Sadanam Ramakrishnan, Sadanam Devadas and Sadanam Jithin were the percussionists.

The plays were staged in connection with the 60th anniversary of Sadanam Kathakali Academy, one of the leading Kathakali institutions in Kerala.