Every year, Darshanam Art Creations takes the audience on a journey to a kshetram, and this time it was to Tirumaliruncholai. Conceptualised and curated by Asha Krishna Kumar, the production, titled ‘Kallazhagar’, wasbuilt around the Chithirai tiruvizha of Azhagar’s procession from Tirumaliruncholai to Vaigai to free Manduka rishi from sage Durvasa’s curse. It also also highlighted the key elements of the temple such as Pathinettampadi Karuppusamy, devotion of Koorathazhwar, and love of Andal for Azhagar. Reminiscent of A.P. Nagarajan’s cinematography for yesteryear devotional films, the set for this production, with yali pillars on the side wings, and a mandapam and gopuram with a mountainous landscape for a backdrop was created in great detail by Shanmugam. Murugan’s lighting enhanced the stage and performance .
Senior dancer and teacher Jayanthi Subramaniam knit together stories associated with Kallazhagar and presented them through aesthetically choreographed dance sequences. Pushpanjali by a group of graceful dancers brought into focus the beauty of the temple. In the next sequence, the detailed depiction of the origin of the temple and the story of yamadharma constructing it for Azhagar, helped the audience understand the production better. The segment portraying 18 tantric maayavis, sent by the king of Malabar to steal the Utsavamoorthi, entering the temple premises with their faces painted in black, and their eventual arrest, were highlighted through an interesting series of events associated with Pathinettampadi Karuppusamy the guardian diety. The sequences were choreographed in a dramatic manner.
Folk dance such as oyilattam, karagattam, kummi and devarattam performed during Chithirai Tiruvuzha lacked the colour and energy of these forms. Manasa, who played Andal, conveyed well the nuances of the lovelorn state of a young girl. i The grandeur of Azhagar’s procession and the depiction of the rituals, flowed seamlessly from one scene to another. The miniature version of the golden horse carrying Azhagar on the pallakku was realistic. Since the purpose of the production was to highlight the grandeur of Azhagar’s entry into the river. However, his journey on a golden horse could have been depicted more effectively with dynamic choreographic explorations, combined with imagery on the video projection screen.
The musical score by Rajkumar Bharathi cut across genres, especially in the Dasavatharam tillana, which was a blend of classical, semi classical and folk dance styles. The use of a distinct mudhra for each avatar was beautifully incorporated into the thillana. Narration was by Malola Kannan, and the resource persons for the production were Sundarrajan Bhattar, Damal Ramakrishnan and Chithra Madhavan. Soundsape was by Sai Shravanam.