‘Ravanavijayam' and ‘Subhadraharanam' were staged at the Puthur Thirupurakkal temple, near Palakkad

The annual festival of the Puthur Thirupurakkal temple, near Palakkad, was a grand affair. Two Kathakali performances – Rambhapravesham of ‘Ravanavijayam' and ‘Subhadraharanam' – were the highlights of the fete.

Octogenarian Madavur Vasudevan Nair, a veteran artiste of the Southern style of Kathakali, put up a scintillating performance as the love-lorn Ravana in ‘Ravanavijayam.' Though his footwork appeared a bit unsteady, he came up trumps in the portryal of valour, which is the sthayi bhava of the character.

With masterly perfection he enacted the character's devotion towards Lord Shiva by singing on stage raga Shankarabharam – something that the veteran does every time he enacts ‘Ravanavijayam.' RLV Radhakrishnan performed the role of Rambha. Kalamandalam Sucheendranath donned the role of the messenger. Music was by Kottakkal Narayanan and Nedumpalli Rammohan.

Masterpiece

Only three scenes from the beginning of ‘Subhadraharanam' were staged. Kalamandalam Gopi once again essayed Arjuna, his masterpiece. The first scene depicted the wedding of Arjuna and Subhadra. After the wedding, the couple prays to the people gathered there. This part is called as ‘nokkikanal' and ‘kumbidal' and it is considered as one of the most visually appealing scenes in Kathakali.

The 18-minute-long scene is accompanied only by percussion. A new choreography in percussion for this scene was developed two years ago by Gopi and Kalamandalam Unnikrishnan, a professor of chenda at Kalamandalam.

Usually only the edamthala of the chenda is used for a Kathakali performance and the valamthala (the other side) is used only on rare occasions. Here the valamthala melam was used for the whole scene.

Kalamandalam Sucheendranath played the role of Subhadra. Ranjini Nair enacted Krishna. Kalamandalam Babu Nambudiri was the main singer while Nedumpalli Rammohan supported him. Kalamandalam Unnikrishnan, Venu Mohan and Ravishankar on the chenda, and Kalamandalam Rajnarayana and Ramankutty on the maddalam played a big part in the success of the play.