Bhava Bhavanam, Kalakshetra’s annual Kathakali festival was inaugurated on Tuesday by Dr. Karan Singh, Honourable Member of the Rajya Sabha and president, Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). The festival, in its fourth edition, will feature the tale of Nala Charitham, from the Mahabharata. Interestingly, this will be the first time in recent times that the tale will be performed in Chennai in its entirety.
Speaking at the inauguration, which was punctuated by the festive sounds of the conch and the maddalam, and a lamp-lighting with Gopalkrishna Gandhi, chairman, Kalakshetra Foundation, Karunaker Menon, director, Kalakshetra Foundation, and senior dance gurus present, Dr. Karan Singh recalled his previous visit to the institution fifty years ago when he was conducted on a tour by the founder Rukmini Devi. Citing her contribution to the arts, Dr. Karan Singh addressed the rasikas on the significant artistic and cultural diversity of the country and drew attention to the pride of place that Kathakali occupies in the Indian heritage.
The festival will be held from September 11-15. It will include lectures on a variety of topics These are intended to highlight the significance of Nala Charitham and its salient features to rasikas, students and scholars. Performers at the festival will include Kalamandalam Gopi, Kottakkal Chandrasekhara Warrier and Kalamandalam Balasubramaniam, and the lectures will be by noted scholars such as Sadanam Harikumar (who spoke on the first day on Nala Charitham: An Introduction), Narayanan Nampoothiry (Unnayi Variyar: The Master Craftsman on September 12), Professor M. V. Narayanan (Nala Charitham: The First Text of Kerala’s Modernity on September 14) and M. P. S. Namboodiri (Nala Charitham: Challenges to an Actor on September 15).
The lectures are scheduled for 5.00 p.m. on September 11-15 and the performances will commence at 6.00 p.m. on all days, except on September 13 when it will commence at 5.30 p.m.
The first day with its rousing performance of Nala Charitham: Onnam Divasam – Part 1, featured Kalamandalam Balasubramaniam as Nala. Present at the inaugural day of the performance were several gurus and performers of note including Shanta, V. P. Dhananjayan, Kunhiraman, A. Janardhanan, C. K. Balagopal and Gopika Varma.