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Play of expression

Vinu Vasudevan
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theatre ‘Kalyanasougandhikam' offers actors a lot of scope for manodharma. Vinu Vasudevan

Kottayathu Thampuran wrote four Kathakali attakathas based on the Pandava's sojourn in the forest. Of these ‘Kalyanasougandhikam' is perhaps the most popular because of its theme of brotherhood. Although all of Thampuran's plays are systematically and lyrically perfect, ‘Kalyanasougandhikam' slightly differs from the other three in its structure and offers actors a lot of scope for manodharma within the traditional framework of the attakatha. This enabled legendary performers such as Keezhpadam Kumaran Nair and Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair to experiment with the characters. Their well-studied manodharma attams with the character of Hanuman paved the way for a new generation of artistes.

Evocative acting

‘Kalyanasougandhikam' was performed at Peruvanam Mahadeva Temple, near Thrissur, as part of its annual Sivaratri celebrations. Kalamandalam Harinarayanan donned the role of Bheemasena while his guru, Kalamandalam Balasubramanian, former principal of Kerala Kalamandalam, essayed the role of Hanuman.

The play began with a stylish patinja padam in which Bheema expresses his love for his wife Panchali. Harinarayanan's kalasams and mudras were spot on. His ‘manodharma' attam in which Bheema narrates the ‘Ajakaragabalitham,' a scene that he happens to come across in his travels, was especially noteworthy.

Kalamandalam Jishnu Ravi essayed the role of Panchali.

Balasubramanian, who excels in Pacha veshams, enacted Hanuman with a different manodharma attam where he managed to convey the character's bhakti towards Lord Rama in his opening scenes itself.

His presentation of the emotive padam ‘Aariha varunnathivan...evanarum ethirillayoo...' displayed his skill as an actor. Towards the end of the play, when both Bheema and Hanuman who are actually brothers and sons of Vayu meet, it was interesting to see the parley between the guru and the shisya.

Kalamandalam Jayaprakash and Nedumpally Rammohan enthralled with their melodious voice.

Kalamandalam Balasundar's chenda was exceptionally good; his beats were well supported by Kalamandalam Venu on the maddalam.


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