Theatre A recital of the popular ‘Utharaswayamvaram’ had its share of aesthetic moments when some of the actors came up with splendid performances. Vinu Vasudevan
‘Utharaswayamvaram’, an attakatha penned by the renowned court poet Irayimman Thampi, is one of the popular plays that are performed nowadays. Evocative lyrics and musicality have increased its appeal among rasikas. Thampi had envisaged the play as a performance that would go on through the night and divided it into three parts. The first and second parts are commonly staged in Central Kerala. Recently, the first two parts were performed at the Sree Mahadeva Temple, Thiruvegappura near Pattambi. The play was organised in connection with the annual temple festival.
‘Utharaswayamvaram’ narrates the story of the Pandavas when they had to live incognito in the court of King Virata after spending 13 years in the forest.
When Duryodhana learns that Keechaka, the army chief of the Virata kingdom, had been killed, he suspects the hand of the Pandavas. He attacks the kingdom with the help of his friend Susarmav, the king of Trigarta.
Arjuna, disguised as Brihannala, a dance teacher who teaches princess Uthara, enthuses the kings’s son Utharan to fight against the Kauravas and finally Arjuna succeeds in defeating his cousins. In this recital, Narippatta Narayanan Nambudiri, reputed for his ‘kathi’ and ‘vellathadi’ veshams performed the role of Duryodhana. His enactment of the padam ‘Kalyanee kanka...mama vallabhe...’ could not quite match the expectations of the audience. Although his mudras and steps were masterly, the artiste’s aesthetic touch was missing.
But he came good in the next scene where Duryodhana meets his spy. ‘Medinee pala veeranmare...’, a padam that followed, saw the actor at his best.
Vellinezhi Haridas, a senior performer in female roles, essayed the character of Bhanumathi with elan. His presentation of the padam ‘Sundara shrunu Kantha...’ was interesting to watch. His experience and expertise were evident in his acting. The pick of the recital was Peesappalli Rajeevan's Brihannala and Kalamandalam Neeraj's Trigarta.
Rajeevan’s performance during the padam ‘Tharil then mozhi mar mane...’ adhered to the prefect grammar of Kathakali and maintained the 'sthayi’ as well. His manodharma attam during his interaction with Utharan was a high point of his recital. His virtuosity and involvement came to the fore during the padam ‘Aha choran mar areda...’.
Neeraj’s Trigarta was endowed with massive energy. The presentation of the padam ‘Kauravendra namosthuthe...nripathe…’ was an example of his controlled acting that never veered towards over-acting. His interpretation of ‘Gow grahanam' (stealing of cows) was interesting to watch. Kalamandalam Sajan’s Utharan and Ravi Karangad's Doothan and Valala were quite good. Sajan appeared as Utharan. Ravi, not a regular performer, beautifully depicted the padam ‘Jaya jaya naka kethana...’.
‘Kiratham’ Kathakali followed ‘Utharaswayamvaram’. Kalamandalam Arun Warrier (Kattalan), Suresh Thottara (Kattalasthree) and Kalamandalam Vipin (Arjuna) were the actors. Athippatta Raveendran and Nedumpalli Rammohan were the main singers while Panayur Kuttan and Jishnu Nambudiripad gave them good support. Kalamandalam Nandakumar and Kalamandalam Ravishankar played the chenda. Kalamandalam Venu and Kalamandalam Aneesh were on the maddalam.