Nalacharitham is one of the most popular Kathakali plays. It has many dramatic situations and the third day's story is particularly replete with moving scenes. It is all about separation of a loving couple and their efforts for reunion, said E. Somapalan, a Kathakali critic.
The play was organised by the Palakkad Kathakali Trust in their monthly programme on April 14 at the M.D. Ramanathan Memorial Hall in Palakkad.
Kottakkal Chandrasekhara Varier as Bahuka and Kalamandalam Sajan as Damayanthy gave sterling performance as the separated couple with the former taking the cake, enacting the two famous scenes ‘vijane batha…' and ‘marimaan kanni…,' Mr. Somapalan said.
Nala, after his encounter with Karkkotaka, and with complexion changed to blue, goes to the palace of King Rituparna, as advised by the divine serpent. He assumes the guise of Bahuka. Rituparna generously employs him as his charioteer. Bahuka spends sleepless nights thinking of Damayanthy's condition.
In the meantime, Damayanthy, staying with King Bheema, her father, finds out with the help of messengers that Nala is with Rituparna. To get him to come to her place and to confirm that the charioteer is Nala, she deputes Sudeva to announce her second wedding on the day after he meets Rituparna who is keen to marry her. Only Nala is capable of driving the chariot fast enough to reach the place in time since only he knew the mantra for it.
Nala, overcome by several emotions after hearing the news, had a near breakdown. He imagines all sorts of things about the mind of Damayanthy. But he recovers and promises Rituparna to take him to the wedding. He then prepares the chariot for the eventful journey.
P.K. Narayanan of the Kathakali Trust said that Kalamandalam Kesavan Namboodiri as Sudeva and Balakrishnan as Rituparna gave spirited performance. Musicians Kalanilayam Unnikrishnan and Kalamandalam Harish could not do full justice to the songs. Kalanilayam Kunjunny and Sadanam Rajan gave good support on the Chenda and the Maddalam. Padmanabhan handled the make-up well, Mr. Narayanan said.