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Tuesday, Mar 04, 2003

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Epic entertainment

Chennai-ites can get a glimpse of Yakshagana, the ancient folk theatre form, tomorrow at Rani Seethai Hall where a 14-member troupe will perform "Vaali Moksha" from the Ramayana.

THEATRE AND dance lovers of Chennai can look forward to a spectacular event on March 5, 6.30 p.m. at the Rani Seethai Hall, Gemini Circle. Under the auspices of the Brahma Gana Sabha, one of the most colourful and dynamic troupes — the Sri Idagunji Mahaganapathi Yakshagana Mandali of Keremane — is presenting an episode from the Ramayana in the "Yakshagana" tradition. The troupe is visiting Chennai after performing at the "Natyanjali" Festival at Chidambaram.

Novices and laypersons may want to know what Yakshagana is all about. Here is an opportunity for them to see a folk theatre form, which can boast of a history dating back to at least 500 years.

The rural folk of Karwad district of coastal Karnataka have for centuries entertained themselves with episodes from the Epics, donning fantastic headgear to suit each character, and enacting the Eternal battle between Good and Evil. The drums, accompanying the unfolding of familiar stories, have for years pierced the night air of the lush villages of Karnataka, drawing an eager crowd which forgets its daily cares and chores during those delightful hours of the performance. Great actors have played impressive roles, their voices creating just the right magical overtones to make time stand still.

As the curtains go up on March 5, Chennai-ties can get to see the talented Yakshagana artiste, Keremane Shivanand Hegde, son of the Hegde family. His father Shambu Hegde was also a renowned artiste in his time and so was his grandfather Shivaram Hegde. Their talent won them National awards and they have come to represent a unique heritage.

Shivanand Hegde leads a 14-member troupe, which will present the exciting episode of Vaali and Sugriva. Titled "Vaali Moksha", the 75-minute production will not only interest dance and theatre buffs but also children who will enjoy the antics of the inhabitants of the monkey kingdom.

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