Dance

On the friendship between Lord Krishna and Kuchela

Peesappilly Rajeevan as Kuchela, KR Rajeevan as Krishna, and KalamandalamVijayakumar as Rugmini in ‘Kuchelavritham’   | Photo Credit: Jawaharji.K

The story of the bonding between Lord Krishna and his best friend-cum-classmate Kuchela at sage Sandipani’s hermitage is one of the popular episodes in the Bhagavatham. It has found expression in different genres of art and literature in various Indian languages.

While many authors, including Muloor Padmanabha Panicker, have penned Kathakali plays on this theme, it is Kuchelavritham by Muringoor Sankaran Potti that is preferred for staging across Kerala. Presented with three or four artistes and devoid of all typical characters, Kuchelavritham has become a favourite of organisers. The connoisseurs love the play for its possibilities of improvisation in acting and music.

A performance of the play was held in the capital city recently. In the first scene Kuchela’s wife draws his attention to the plight of their household and their children and persuades him to visit his friend, Krishna. She hands him a small cloth bag of pounded rice as a gift for the Lord. The next scene shows Kuchela’s journey to meet Krishna, when, in his eagerness to meet his friend, Kuchela forgets his wife’s request and desires to submit himself to the Lord.

Peesappilly Rajeevan as Kuchela and Oyoor Ramachandran as Kuchela’s wife in ‘Kuchelavritham’

Peesappilly Rajeevan as Kuchela and Oyoor Ramachandran as Kuchela’s wife in ‘Kuchelavritham’   | Photo Credit: Jawaharji K

The subsequent scene presents Krishna’s reaction on seeing Kuchela at the gate while he was in the middle of a game of dice with Rugmini. Kuchela is treated with love and affection by the Lord, who washes the latter’s feet and reminisces about their days at the hermitage. As Krishna enjoys the pounded rice, Rugmini stops him from eating further, for, she knows that the Lord has already blessed Kuchela’s family with just the handful of rice he had eaten.

Peesapilly Rajeevan left nothing to be desired in delineating the role he assumed, but whether his physique suited the role of Kuchela is an important point. Oyoor Ramachandran handled the role of Kuchela’s wife with elan. KR Rajeevan, an amateur artiste, came good as Krishna. However, his make-up and insufficient length of his skirt seemed to place him at a disadvantage.

Peesapilly Rajeevan as Kuchela and KR Rajeevan as Krishna in ‘Kuchelavritham’

Peesapilly Rajeevan as Kuchela and KR Rajeevan as Krishna in ‘Kuchelavritham’   | Photo Credit: Jawaharji.K

Kalamandalam Vijayakumar’s presentation of Rugmini was laudable. On being politely dissuaded by Kuchela from ensuring his comfort by continuously fanning him, Vijayakumar’s Rugmini left the scene only after seeking Krishna’s permission to fetch some food for the guest. This appeared to be, perhaps, the only refreshing innovation during the recital which seemed to tread the traditional path.

The music section led by Kalamandalam Jayaprakash was flawless. The rendition of the padam ‘Danavari’ in Punnagavarali, involving Kuchela’s soliloquy, the ragamalika beginning with ‘Kalayami sumate’ and ‘Pushkaravilochana’ in Surutti while Kuchela takes leave of Krishna – all of them conveyed the meaning of the lyrics. While Sadanam Saykumar assisted Jayaprakash, Margi Venugopal and Margi Ravindran accompanied on the chenda and the maddalam respectively. The performance was held under the aegis of Drisyavedi.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2021 8:46:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/a-staging-of-kuchelavritham-in-the-capital-city-conformed-to-the-traditional-pattern/article25887438.ece

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