Unnayi Warrier Smaraka Kalanilayam's workshop on Kathakali featured performances by leading artistes and on-the-spot reviews by veterans.

A three-day workshop on Kathakali was held at Unnayi Warrier Smaraka Kalanilayam in Irinjalakuda, with the aim of attracting and familiarising a new crop of spectators with the technicalities of the art form.

It was also an opportunity to rejuvenate the aesthetics of the existing audience and to invigorate new-generation performers by instilling confidence in them. Selected padams and roles were entrusted to a few handpicked artistes, which were performed before a panel of senior artistes comprising Nelliyodu Vasudevan Namboodiri, Vazhenkada Vijayan, Sadanam Krishnankutty, Kalamandalam Vasu Pisharody and Sadanam Balakrishnan.

Enlivening discussions

An introduction before the performance and an analysis and discussion after it had been staged enlivened the show.

Aesthetic stage decor, a disciplined audience, performers desirous of enriching their knowledge and fine analysis by the panel of masters enhanced the value of the event. ‘Poothanamoksham' (Haripriya Nambudiri as Poothana), ‘Nalacharitam - Day Three' (Kalamandalam Shanmukhadas as Nala), ‘Subhadraharanam' (Peesappilly Rajeev as Bhalabadra), ‘Keechakavadham' (Kalamandalam Ravikumar as Keechaka) and ‘Rajasooyam' (Kalamandalam Soman as Jarasandhan), were staged on the first day.

The second day comprised a detailed discussion on the play ‘Utharaswayamvaram' and performances of ‘Bakavadham' (Kalamandalam Manoj Kumar as Asari), ‘Kirmeeravadham' (Kalamandalam Vijayakumar as Lalitha and Kalamandalam Sucheendranathan as Panchali), and ‘Thoranayudham' (Sadanam Bhasi as Hanuman and Kalamandalam Pradeepkumar as Ravana). This was followed by the staging of the play ‘Dhakshayagam' with Kalanilayam Gopinathan and Kalamandalam Hari R. Nair in the lead.

On the third day, there was a memorable concert by Prasanna Venkatraman accompanied by H.N. Bhaskar (violin), Mannarkoil Balaji (mridangam) and Udupi Sreekanth (ganjira). The vocalist selected kritis immortalised by masters of Carnatic music.

An excellent portrayal of Kambhoji was succeeded by the main item ‘Raasavilasa' by Swati Tirunal. ‘Ninne Bhajana' (Naatta), ‘Dhanyudevvado' (Malayamaarutham), ‘Naamakusuma' (Sree), ‘Kripachoochutaku' (Chaayatharangini), ‘Kaayarohanesam' (Abheri) and a ragam thanam pallavi in Gourimanohari were some of the kritis rendered. Towards the end of the concert, the vocalist also sang a ‘Kavadichinthu' that was soaked in bhava.

All-night recital

The final session had a performance of ‘Utharaswayamvaram' by around 25 artistes, most of whom had participated in the workshop on the preceding days. It was an all-night performance, enacted in detail with purappad and Melappadam.

The active participation of singers, percussionists, chutti (make-up) artistes and other production artistes made the workshop all the more successful.The workshop was organised by Thiranottam, in association with K. N. Pisharody Kathakali Club.