Kathakali Kalamandalam Shanmughan brought to life the gamut of emotions King Daksha goes through in ‘Dakshayagam.' T.K. Sadasivan
I n Kathakali, actors are trained to handle all kinds of roles. However, barring a few, most Kathakali artistes tend to stick to a type of character they excel in. Hence, Kalamandalam Shanmughan, who is well-known for his female roles, surprised Kathakali fans by portraying the role of King Daksha in ‘Dakshayagam.' He brilliantly portrayed the character of the arrogant King, thus proving his acting prowess.
‘Dakshayagam,' written by Irayimman Thampy, narrates the story of the conceited King Daksha and his hatred towards Lord Shiva. It narrates the events that eventually transforms Daksha into a Shiva devotee. The play is widely accepted for its dramatic sequences and variety of characters in spectacular costumes. Only the latter half of the play was staged before a packed audience of Ernakulathappan Hall, Kochi.
Path to devotion
King Daksha, who is organising a yagna, refuses to invite his foster daughter, Sati, and her husband, Lord Shiva. Although uninvited, Sati proceeds to her father's palace and, as predicted by Siva, Daksha insults her. Sati returns to Kailasa in tears and narrates to Lord Shiva the humiliation she was subjected to. Shiva sends Veerabhadran and Bhadrakali to ruin the yagna. They not only trash the yagna but also behead Daksha. Shiva pardons Daksha when he realises his folly. Daksha then becomes an ardent Shiva devotee.
Shanmughan portrayed a range of emotions – arrogance, hatred, fury, affection, humiliation, regret and devotion – his character undergoes as the story progresses.
Kalamandalam Vijayakumar a.k.a. Champakkara Vijayan who donned the role of Sati was exceptionally good. Kalamandalam Pramod (Indran), Varanad Sanalkumar (Shiva), Ranjith (Veerabhadran) and FACT Biju Bhaskar (Bhadrakali) were the other actors.
Vocal support by Kalamandalam Sreejith and Arjun was impressive. Percussionists Kalamandalam Vijayakumar, Kalamandalam Asokan and Hariharan on the chenda and Kalamandalam Vineeth on the maddalam provided excellent support.
The play was staged under the aegis of Ernakulam Kathakali Club.