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Rare opportunity for Kathakali fans

`Bharathayamini' provided rich fare for lovers of Kathakali.



Kalamandalam Gopi as Nala and Kalamandalam Padmanabhan Nair as `Hamsam.'

IT WAS a rare opportunity for Kathakali aficionados to witness an enthralling Kathakali performance. The all-time greats in the art form assembled at Oloppamanna Mana, near Vellinezhi, the birthplace of the great Kalluvazhi Chitta to witness and participate in the event.

The performance was held in connection with the presentation of the 15th Deviprasadam awards.

Preserving culture

Deviprasadam trust was constituted in 1990 at Olappamanna Mana to serve and preserve Kerala's cultural heritage. The aim of the trust is to honour masters in Sanskrit, Vedam, Malayalam literature and Kathakali.

The awards were constituted in memory of late OMC Narayanan Namboodiripad, who was an authority in those fields. This year's awards went to M.H. Sastry for Sanskrit, M. Leelavathy for Malayalam literature, Nedumballi Subrahmanian Namboodiri for Vedam and Kalamandalam Gopi for Kathakali. Appunni Thakarakan was felicitated.

Thakarakan is the winner of this year's Mukunda Raja Award. He has been working as a costume assistant in Kathakali (Pettikkaran) since the golden years of Pattikkanthodi Ravunni Menon.

Free flow of music

Thayambaka by Alipparambu Sivarama Poduval, an expert in chenda, followed the award function. It was a free flow of music and percussion.

At 10 p.m. the Kathakali performance, described as `Bharathayamini' by the organisers, provided a rich and unforgettable banquet to lovers of the art. `Nalacharitham Onnam Divasam' (Nalacharitham: 1st day) was staged. Kalamandalam Padmanabhan Nair, and this year's award winner, Kalamandalam Gopi, played their respective masterpieces of Hamsam and Nala.

The two veterans were performing together after a long time. Kottakkal Sivaraman played the role of Damayanthi in his inimitable style. K.G. Vasudevan portrayed the role of Narada. `Purappadu' was performed by Kalamandalam Pradeep and Harinarayanan, new generation artistes, in grand style.

Mature portrayal

In the second story, `Rajasuyam,' Kalamandalam Raman Kutty Nair donned the role of Sisupala with characteristic maturity and grace. In the third story, `Dakshayagam,' Vazhenkada Vijayan, son of late Padmasree Vazhenkada Kunju Nair, performed as Daksha, and Kalamandalam Soman donned the role of Veerabhadra. The music was rendered by Palanadu Divakaran. He was supported by Kottakkal Madhu, and Athipatta Ravi.

The percussion department was handled by veterans such as Kalamandalam Appukutty Pothuval and Kalamandalam Kesavan. Kalamandalam Narayanan Nambisan and Kalamandalam Unnikrishnan ably supported them. It was a matchless experience for the audience and the artistes. Mohanlal, Sreeraman, Kochin Haneefa and director Renjith were among the audience to see the Kathakali performances.

VINU VASUDEVAN

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