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Introspection:Sadanam Krishnankutty as Ravana in ‘Dasamukharavanan.'
Introspection:Sadanam Krishnankutty as Ravana in ‘Dasamukharavanan.'

VINU VASUDEVAN

‘Sree Guruvayurappan' and ‘Dasamukharavanan' were staged at Olappamanna mana, Palakkad.

‘S ree Guruvayurappan' and ‘Dasamukharavanan,' two rarely staged ‘attakkathas,' were performed at Olappamanna mana in connection with the 20th Deviprasadam awards presentation ceremony at Vellinezhi, near Palakkad. Deviprasadam Trust has instituted four awards in the categories of literature, Vedam, Sanskrit and Kathakali in the memory of O. M.C. Narayanan Nambudiripad and Mahakavi Olappamanna.

‘Sree Guruvayurappan,' written by O.M.C. Narayanan Nambudiripad in the early seventies, was an aesthetic expression of his devotion towards Lord Guruvayurappan. Kerala Kalamandalam took the initiative to compose and choreograph the play; certain scenes of the play were also staged there. But in 1997, PSV Natysangham, Kottakkal, staged the entire play under the leadership of thespian Chandrasekhara Warrier. After the inaugural performance, PSV Natyasangham staged the play at Olappamanna mana, the house of the playwright.

The five-hour-long play was divided into 14 scenes. The predominant mood is of Bhakti or devotion. Poet Poonthanam is the central character in the play, although he appears only mid-way through the performance, which narrates the story behind the founding of the Sree Guruvayur Temple.

The story begins with Lord Krishna's desire to build a place of prayer for his devotees as he had fulfilled the reason for his birth. Udhavar, Krishna's friend, meets Brihaspathy and Vayudeva; finally they decide to build the temple at Guruvayur – the place where both ‘Guru' and ‘Vayu' are perfectly placed. Viswakarma begins the construction of the temple. Meanwhile, Janamejaya, son of king Pareekshith, who is in search of a remedy for his skin disease, reaches Guruvayur. It is only after this that poet Poonthanam enters the scene.

Masterly performance

Kottakkal Chandrasekhara Warrier led from the front in the role of Poonthanam. The veteran came up with a masterly performance that captured the deep sorrow and devotion of the character. Kottakkal Kesavan Kundalayar (King Janamejaya), Kottakkal Devadas (Brihaspathy) and Kottakkal Vasudevan (Poonthanam's wife) were the other actors in the play. Simple but emotional lyrics were rendered by vocalists led by Kottakkal Narayanan and Madhu.

‘Dasamukharavanan,' a new play conceptualised and created by Kalamandalam Vijayakrishnan, Professor of chenda in Kerala Kalamandalam, was staged next. The storyline was inspired by a poem by N.K. Desam. Ace actor Sadanam Krishnankutty donned the titled role of ‘Dasamukhan.' The one-hour solo depicts Ravana's mindscape after he loses the battle against Rama. Ravana's life is spared and Rama advises him to take some rest before the battle begins again.

‘Pakarnnattam'

An introspective Ravana recollects past incidents, which is depicted on stage through the technique of ‘Pakarnnattam.' The description of ‘Dasamukha' (10 faces) is the expression of nine ‘bhavas.'

For instance, when Ravana recollects his penance to Lord Brahma, the ‘bhava' (emotion or expression) is of ‘veeram' (valour); when he sees some heavenly ladies travelling in his garden, the bhava changes to ‘sringara' (romance). The mood was one of ‘bheebhalsam' (disgust) when his sister Soorpanekha (after she is mutilated by Lakshmana) comes to meet him and then ‘hasyam,' when he recalls Karthaveerarjuna's wives making fun of him. At the end, he reaches ‘santham' (peace) and prays to Lord Siva for an easy death.

Although it was a promising theme, lack of homework on the part of the actors hampered the play and it could not reach the expectations of the audience.

Only vocalist Kalamandalam Mohanakrishnan succeeded in touching the hearts of the audience.

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