Dance

The core of Kathakali

‘Vyvidhya’, the Kathakali festival had varied themes. .

‘Vyvidhya’, the Kathakali festival had varied themes. .   | Photo Credit: M_Karunakaran;M_Karunakaran -

‘Bhava Manjari’ focussed on the significance of abhinaya, writes

Kalakshetra and Kathakali have walked hand in hand from a long time ago (since its inception) with doyens like Asan Chandu Panicker training students at Kalakshetra. The dance form is currently being taught at the institution by Asan Sadanam Balakrishnan.

The Kathakali festival ‘Bhava Bhavanam’, in its eighth year, has gained prominence as an important dance festival in the city’s cultural calendar. This year’s edition titled ‘Vyvidhya’ had themes like Karna Shapatham, Kalyana Saugandhikam, Baali Vadham, Duryodhana Vadham and Bhava Manjari.

Bhava Manjari which was presented on the final day of the festival focussed on the exquisite rasabhinaya of Kathakali. Selected scenes from Aatakatha were chosen to highlight specific rasas. The first scene was from Unnani Variyar’s Nala Charitam showing the emotions of the hero Nala, yearning to unite with the beautiful princess, Damayanthi. The beauty of Sringara rasa came alive in the hands of Kalamandalam Shanmughan. His portrayal describing the long tresses of the heroine, comparing it to the dark clouds, experiencing the thought of union with the nayika was captivating, but the most memorable sequence was the tuning of the instrument veena, where the dancer’s bhava and the percussionist’s rhythm struck a harmonious chord.

The second piece from the Bhagavatham, which featured the clown (carpenter) sent by Vidura to save the Pandavas in the wax palace was an exploration of the hasya rasa. It was interesting to note that though Bhima and Dharmaputra played by Rajkamal and Krishna respectively were attired similarly, the characteristic differences between the two were brought out beautifully through their body language. The head gear with a huge tuft of hair and folk movements enhanced the visual and comical appeal of the character. Kalamandalam Pradeepan, who played the role of Gunagan, the asari, revealed his mastery over abhinaya. In a simple scene, depicting the felling of a tree, the artist’s imagination and detailed sancharis were intresting.

The third scene from Prahalada Charitam had all the features of a Kathakali performance including the grand costume and thiranoku (introducing the character behind the screen). It highlighted the roudra rasa. The element of surprise was the introduction of a small boy Abhinav Shankara [debut performance] in the role of Prahalada. He stood out against Kalamandalam Manoj, who portrayed Hiranyakashipu. Sadanam M N Harikumar as Narasimha was fiery.

The three scenes truly highlighted the intense abhinaya of Kathakali, by making us focus on its aesthetics, underplaying the dramatic elements of this art, which shifts our attention to the spectacle and not the rasas.

The musical ensemble consisting of Kalamandalam Jayaprakash and Kalamandalam Vinod on vocal, Kalamandalam Nandakumar and Kalamandalam Hareesh on the chenda, Varavoor Hari and Kalamandalam Aneesh on maddhalam enhanced the performance by their exquisite performance.

A letter from the Editor


Dear reader,

We have been keeping you up-to-date with information on the developments in India and the world that have a bearing on our health and wellbeing, our lives and livelihoods, during these difficult times. To enable wide dissemination of news that is in public interest, we have increased the number of articles that can be read free, and extended free trial periods. However, we have a request for those who can afford to subscribe: please do. As we fight disinformation and misinformation, and keep apace with the happenings, we need to commit greater resources to news gathering operations. We promise to deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Support Quality Journalism
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 25, 2020 1:59:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/The-core-of-Kathakali/article14906878.ece

Next Story