Gurusmarana festival at Moozhikkulam featured Chakyarkoothu, Nangiarkoothu and Koodiyattam performances.
Indu G presented Part 7 of Jayadeva’s Geetagovinda , which Nepathya is in the process of adding to their Nangiarkoothu repertoire.
The storyline of this episode is about Lord Krishna cavorting with the gopis as Radha walks away in a huff. Krishna soon regrets not pacifying her and starts pining for Radha’s company. He leaves the gopis and goes in search of Radha and with a heavy heart waits in a bower for her. In her two-and-a-half-hour performance, Indu chose to elaborate on two segments: the first of Krishna playing with the gopis, and the second, the story of Kamadeva.
Indu displayed in detail the revelry of Krishna and the gopis — dancing, playing musical instruments, the coyness, the joy, the playful repartees... all combined to present a visual delight.
In narrating Krishna’s longing for Radha, Indu weaved in the story of Kamadeva or Cupid being destroyed by Lord Siva, which forms part of Kumarasambhavam . On instructions from Indra, Kamadeva arrives to make Siva fall in love with Parvathi. Kamadeva notices the transformational effect signalling romance that his arrival brings to the surroundings — a male and a female bee drinks honey from the same flower, a stag rubs its antlers against a doe, a bull elephant offers water laced with lotus powder to his partner. As mudras play a minimalist role, it was a treat to watch Indu use her expressive eyes and face, and employ body language to differentiate between the male and female bee or the stag and the doe.
If it was all about love and longing in Indu’s Nangiarkoothu, the theme was valour and anger the next day when Nepathya Sreehari Chakyar and Nepathya Yadukrishnan presented Thoranayudham Koodiyattam Day 1.
Thoranayudham , the third act of Bhasa’s Abhisheka Natakam, is popular in the Koodiyattam arena. Sreehari and Yadukrishnan, two young disciples of Nepathya director Margi Madhu Chakyar, made it a gripping play that lasted well over four and a half hours. The play starts with the nirvahanam or recapitulation of Sankukarnan, a staff of Ravana’s palace. He narrates the story of the Asokavanika before informing Ravana that the exquisite garden had been destroyed by a monkey.
The episode ends with an angry Ravana plotting revenge for the destructive act, which he suspects was at the behest of the gods.
Sreehari played the role of Sankukarnan, retelling the story of how Ravana marched to Heaven, challenged Indra to war, and looted the place after the Gods took flight. The padappurappadu scene, which describes soldiers getting battle-ready, showcased elegant footwork and control over pace. Soldiers wielding sabre and shield on a horseback, others armed with spears riding an elephant and those carrying bow and arrow in a chariot, all came in for descriptive treatment. Sreehari got a little carried away in describing the drumbeats accompanying Ravana’s procession to battle, as his description of the drums and pipes being played seemed a little too festive.
Ravana’s entry, displaying raw anger and carrying burning torches in a darkened arena, was spectacular. Yadukrishnan made a good impact and lived up to the dramatist’s description of Ravana’s “flashing red eyes” and of him “glowing like the morning sun”.
The last scene, of a livid but thoughtful Ravana sitting still on his throne waiting for the miscreant monkey to be chained and brought before him, while relishing the prospect of how he was going to spear the Gods who caused this mischief, was a fitting finale to the four-day festival.
Earlier, Nepathya Rahul Chakyar presented Kiratham Chakyarkoothu on the first day while Anjana S Chakyar chose the story of Kamsa’s origin for her Nangiarkoothu.
Percussion is vital for the success of Koodiyattam and it stood out on all days. The three artistes who anchored the drums — Kalamandalam Manikandan and Nepathya Jinesh on the mizhavu and Kalanilayam Rajan on the edakka — helped the artistes lift their descriptive scenes. From jingling anklets to running brooks and battle drums to warbling birds, all found eloquent expression in their dexterous drum rolls.
Kalamandalam Vijay on the mizhavu and Nepathya Pavan Saji on the edakka were the other percussion artistes while Arathi Sajeev played the cymbals.
Organised by Nepathya, the tenth annual Gurusmarana festival was organised to commemorate its founder Moozhikkulam Kochukuttan Chakyar.