A painting series on ‘The Last Supper,’ which counters Dan Brown’s version of the work, has been given a Kathakali adaptation in Kozhikode.
Artist Kodankandath Antony Francis was in news a decade ago when he came up with a series of paintings decoding the symbols used in Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ to clear the myth of the Holy Grail and the Bread.
The Kozhikode-based Navarasam Charitable Trust picked up the interesting findings to give it a Kathakali adaptation, ‘Da Vinci Porul,’ the first staging of which was held at the Chavara Cultural Centre in Kozhikode on Wednesday, creating a rare fusion of Kathakali, art, and Christian theology. Artist Kodankandath’s ‘Decoding Da Vinci’ was the result of a decade-long research, which began in the 90s, on the Renaissance painter. The last few years of his research focussed on one work, ‘The Last Supper.’ He picked up from where author Dan Brown had left in his novel ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ used the techniques of Brown, only to prove through 12 paintings of ‘The Last Supper’ that the latter’s interpretation was false.
‘The Kodankandath Code,’ as it was termed by a section of the media, was the Church’s answer to the row created by the novel. The artist received appreciation from the Vatican. Reportedly, Dan Brown himself called up the artist and asked not to take it to heart, for ‘The Da Vinci Code’ was just a work of fiction.
Kodankandath terms Brown’s work intelligent fiction, but says his interpretation of ‘The Last Supper’ was wrong. The artist traces the pattern of the Holy Grail through the beams of the room where the Last Supper is served, merging it with the outline of the Christ figure. The allegation that the person on Christ’s right is Mary Magdalene is contradicted. Da Vinci was an expert in human anatomy; he would never draw a female figure which is taller than a male figure, the artist explains.
‘Da Vinci Porul’ was the result of a two-year struggle. Radha Madhavan of Navarasam prepared the storyline and lyrics, which was composed by Nedumbilly Ram Mohan. Guru Sadanam Balakrishnan choreographed the moves and gave a convincing performance as Da Vinci.
alamandalam Abin Babu played Jesus Christ. The other characters were essayed by Kalamandalam Manoj (Judas), Sadanam Sadanandan (Mary Magdelene, St. Peter), Sadanam Suresh and Sadanam Deepesh (two disciples). Priyan Sunny, Sreehari, Vaishnav, Ananthu, Arjun Narayanan, Abhishek, Jackson, Ananthu C.P., Amith Rotex, and Nakash played the other ten disciples of Christ in the play.Story on stage
The storyline starts after the resurrection of Christ when Mary Magdalene and Christ are caught in a scandal. God consoles her and assures her that a great painter will be born to clear their name. After 1,500 years, comes the answer in the form of Da Vinci. His students wonder why he had not included the Chalice and the Bread in the painting.
Da Vinci explains how he has incorporated both in the figure of Christ. Christ himself appears before Da Vinci and appreciates him. “Art is something that could stop time at a point and immortalise it. ‘The Last Supper’ is one such painting and Kodankandath had incorporated modernity into it,” said writer C. Radhakrishnan who inaugurated the first performance of ‘Da Vinci Porul’.