Women enacted with élan the lead roles in ‘Nalacharitham Onnam Divasom.’
Lineage plays an important role in shaping an artiste, especially when it comes to the classical arts. Even in a relatively male dominated field, women, under the guidance of their parents, can excel. Such an event was witnessed recently during a Kathakali performance at Irinjalakuda, under the banner of Dr. K.N. Pisharody Smaraka Kathakali Club at Unnayi Warrier Kalanilayam.
The play staged was ‘Nalacharitham Onnam Divasom’ and barring a few, all in the troupe were women. Although not professionals, these women have strong roots in the art form.
The story of Nala and Damayanthi has been beautifully narrated by Unnayi Warrier. It has been divided into four parts for the convenience of enactment. The first day features how Nala met Damyanthi. The exquisite poetical text enriched with similes extolling the lead characters, plus the apt ragas entrusted to the padams are the hallmark of the first part of the play.
Ranjini Suresh, an advocate, donned the role of Nala with vivacity. Daughter of noted Kathakali artiste Kalamandalam Karunakaran, Ranjini interpreted the role in her own style, without any overacting and without imitating the masters during the Ilakiyattam.
Kalanilayam Raghavan’s daughter K.R. Jayanthi, a school teacher, played the role of Hamsam. Haripriya Namboodiri donned the role of Damayanthi.
Kottakkal Unnikrishnan as Narada, Aiswarya Gopi (daughter of Kalanilayam Gopi) and Aathira A.R. as maids were the other artistes.
Deepa Palanad, daughter of Palanad Divakaran, stole the show with her mellifluous rendering of the padams. She successfully brought out the mood of the characters through her vocals. She delivered the padams with strict adherence to struthi, in ragas Kalyani, Kamboji, Hamir Kalyani and so on. She was supported on the vocals by Meera Rammohan (Nedumpilly Rammohan’s wife) and T.P. Manjula.
Veteran Kalanilayam Kunjunni on the chenda and Kalanilayam Sankaradas on the maddalam provided excellent instrumental support. Sujatha, chutti artiste, did a fine job.