‘Nadhasooyam’ a fete at Karalmanna, Palakkad, featured some exemplary Kathakali performances that celebrated the scope for artistry in the art form.

‘Nadhasooyam’ – a cultural fete at Karalmanna, Palakkad, was notable on account of the artistes who performed and the variety of programmes staged.

The fete featured three full nights of Kathakali by senior and up-and-coming artistes. Other classical art forms such as Ottanthullal, Chakyarkoothu, Carnatic music, Keli and Nangiarkoothu were also performed.

‘Nila vadya vrindam,’ a production by artistes from Kerala Kalamandalam marked the beginning of festivities. Ottanthullal and Nangiarkoothu by young artistes of Kalamandalam followed. Instead of the usual norm of one Nangiar narrating the story with mudras, four female artistes performed a synchronised Purappad.

Versatile artiste Sadanam K. Harikumar charmed the audience with his choice of kritis during his Carnatic music recital.

The highlight were Kathakali plays performed by actors belonging to different generations and schools of acting.

‘Kalyanasowgandhikam,’ ‘Keechakavadham’ and ‘Dakshayagam’ were performed on the first evening of the fete. Thodayam, a series of primary exercises in Kathakali training, was followed by Madavur Vasudevan Nair’s superb act as Hanuman in ‘Kalyanasowgandhikam’. The living legend of the Kapilangadan style aced the role, particularly his ashtakalasam in the padam ‘Manassi Mama Kimapi.’ Kalamandalam Balasubramanian, who has a strong base in the kalari, enacted Bheema with brisk footwork and lively expressions. He chose the style of Kunju Nair to narrate the beauty of the forest. Margi Vijayakumar essayed a flawless Panchali.

In ‘Keechakavadham’, Kottakkal Chandrasekhara Warrier, another mega star in the Kathakali firmament, enacted his masterpiece role of Keechaka in typical lokadharmi style. The gestures and mannerisms of the character, a cold-blooded womaniser, were enacted evocatively. Kalamandalam Rajasekharan’s poignant portrayal of Malini (Panchali in disguise) was another stellar piece of the night. Vellinezhi Haridas (Sudeshna) and Kalamandalam Neeraj (Valala) also contributed to the success of the play.

Kottakkal Kesavan Kundalayar breathed life into the title role of Daksha in ‘Dakshayagam’, the last play of the night. Kalamandalam Ramachandran Unnithan’s Veerabhadra and Kottakkal Devadas’s Bhadrakali too were full of energy, particularly the latter, who also won applause for his fine body language. Kalamandalam Manoj (Sivan) and Mathur Muralikrishnan (Sati) were the other artistes who performed.

Kalamandalam Subramanian, Kalamandalam Mohanakrishnan and Palanad Divakaran were the main singers and Kalamandalam Prabhakara Poduval, Panamanna Sasi, Kalamandalam Balasundaran, Kalamandalam Narayanan Nair, Kottakkal Radhakrishnan, and Kalamandalam Rajnarayanan were the senior percussionists who contributed to the success of the plays.

The second day’s programmes started with a spectacular Keli by Mattannur Sankarankutty Marar, Cherpulassery Sivan, Mattannur Sreeraj and Sadanam Bharatharajan. It set the tone for the performances that followed. Painkulam Ramachakyar’s Chakyarkoothu was another attraction.

The second day’s plays began with Purappad and Melappadam. Kalamandalam Babu Nambudiri and Kalanilayam Rajeev (vocal), Kalamandalam Balaraman and Poroor Sankaranarayanan (chenda), and Kalamandalam Sankara Warrier and Kalanilayam Manoj (maddalam) were the artistes who performed Melappadam. Kalamandalam Harinarayanan donned the role of Krishna.

After this stunning execution of music and melam, it was the time for thespian Kalamandalam Gopi to enter the stage. Gopi performed the role of the angry Balabhadra in the story of ‘Subhadraharanam’, a role that he does not perform often. But he kept the audience hooked till the end. Kalamandalam Krishnakumar’s Sreekrishna also stood out.

Vasu Pisharodi himself took to the stage for a rare act from the story ‘Karthaveerarjuna Vijayam’. He performed only one scene but his face came alive with a mixture of veera and sringara as Ravana, the mighty warrior king, trying to console his wife, Mandodari, in the privacy of their bedroom. Kalamandalam Vijayakumar donned the role of Mandodari.

Veteran Nelliyode Vasudevan Nambudiri (Jarasandha) and Vazhenkada Vijayan (Sisupalan) did their best to make the play ‘Rajasooyam’ enjoyable. Narippatta Narayanan Nambudiri (Krishna), and Kalanilayam Gopi (Duryodhana) stood out in the performance of ‘Duryodhanavadam’.

Madambi Subramanian Nambudiri, Kottakkal Madhu, Kalamandalam Hareesh and Kalamandalam Vinod were the main vocalists. Percussion was handled by Kalamandalam Unnikrishnan, Kalamandalam Krishnadas, Kottakkal Prasad, Kalamandalam Narayanan Nambissan, Kottakkal Ravi and Sadanam Devadas.

The third and final day’s performance was dedicated to the late Kunju Nair. ‘Nalacharitham Onnam Divasam’ and ‘Ravanolbhavam’ were the two plays performed. Kalamandalam Shanmughan’s enactment of Nala stood out because of his careful blend of acting and aesthetics. Sadanam Bhasi once again proved his calibre by presenting an exceptional Hamsam. His fast movements and textbook mannerisms captured the attention of the audience. Haripriya Nambudiri did justice to Damayanthi, her character. Her on-stage improvisations between the padams were interesting.

Kalamandalam Soman’s powerful performance as Ravana in ‘Ravanolbhavam’ made for a cracking climax. Perfect percussion support from Kalamandalam Krishnadas, Sadanam Ramakrishnan and singer Nedumpalli Rammohan helped the artiste a lot.

The fete was organised by the Kunju Nair Memorial Trust.

The 72-hour-long fete was held in connection with the 70th birthday of veteran Kathakali artiste Kalamandalam Vasu Pisharodi.