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Ravana on the rampage

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Shades of black and white: Ravana, the hero, is both romantic and villainous.
Shades of black and white: Ravana, the hero, is both romantic and villainous.

T.K. SADASIVAN

Kathakali Kalamandalam Balasubramanian stole the show with his brilliant performance as Ravana in ‘Ravanavijayam.’

‘Ravanavijayam,’ written by Kilimanoor Rajaraja Varma Koyithampuran, is an outstanding work in Kathakali. Enriched with exquisite lyrical beauty and brilliant similes, the attakatha is considered to be an exceptional piece of work. Although the original text contains 10 scenes, only two scenes are usually staged these days.

A performance, organised under the aegis of Ernakulam Kathakali Club, featuring these two scenes was a memorable visual treat for spectators. The two scenes show an egotistical Ravana on the rampage. After the coronation, the arrogant Ravana ridicules his pious brother Vaisravana’s attempt to advise him and beheads the messenger. He then marches against Vaisravana.

Amorous Ravana

On the way, he accosts the beautiful Rambha, who is on her way to meet Ravana’s nephew, her lover. Ravana tries to woo her in vain. However, he molests her and an angry Rambha curses him.

The show featured Kalamandalam Balasubramanian as Ravana, Chambakara Vijayan as Rambha and Kalamandalam Harinarayanan as Doothan. Kalamandalam Balasubramanian stole the show with his brilliant acting. Right from the ‘Thiranottam,’ he breathed life into the character of Ravana.

As symbolised by the make-up, which had shades of both kathi (negative) and paccha (heroic), the role too has shades of black and white. In this play Ravana, the hero, is both romantic and villainous.

Balasubramanian, head of the Department of Kathakali at Kerala Kalamandalam, could do justice to both the romantic and evil features of the character.

His expressions and body language were exceptionally good, especially in the scenes that showed Ravana trying to woo Rambha.

This Ravana has been immortalised by masters like Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair and Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair.

Chambakara Vijayan, as Rambha, expressed the character’s dilemma and helplessness. Vijayan’s expressions and graceful movements depicted the grief and misery of the character.

Vocalists Palanaad Divakaran and Kalanilayam Rajeevan came good while rendering the padams ‘Ekakini Charasi’ and ‘Parabhrathamozhi.’

Percussionists Kalamandalam Raman Namboodiri and Kalamandalam Prakasan on the maddhalam ably supported the actors with their apt drumming.

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