Reviews

Experienced artistes came good at a Kathakali festival in Thiruvananthapuram

Kalamandalam Gopi as Nala

Kalamandalam Gopi as Nala   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The event was organised in connection with the Nishagandhi festival

The highlight of the inaugural piece of a seven-day Kathakali fete was the appearance of doyen Kalamandalam Gopi as Nala in the first three scenes of the first part of Nalacharitham. His presentation of the character was, as usual, spot on. In fact, many in the audience reminisced Gopi’s aesthetic visualisation of the pivotal soliloquies of Nala (‘Kundinanaayaka…’) even during the golden days when the legendary Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair reigned over the stage.

Rajeevan, Vipin, Shanmukhan, Arun and Aromal, all alumni of Kalamandalam, commendably essayed the roles of Hamsam (the Golden Swan), Narada, Damayanti and her maids respectively. The outstanding musical rendition of the play led by Pathiyoor Sankarankutty was supported by Kalamandalam Krishnadas (chenda) and Kalanilayam Manoj (maddalam).

Select scenes

On the following evenings, select scenes from the third part of Nalacharitham, Dakshayagam (by Irayimman Thampi), Lavanasuravadham (by Palakkattu Amrita Sasthri), Balivadham and Thoranayuddham (both by Kottarakkara Thampuran ) and Devayanicharitham (by Thazhavana Govindan Asan) were staged showcasing the histrionic talents of actors such as Kalamandalam Balasubrahmanyan (Bahuka), Kalamandalam Krishnakumar (Daksha), Sadanam Krishnankutty and Kalamandalam Rajasekharan (Hanuman and Seetha in Lavanasuravadham), Kalamandalam Ramachandran Unnithan (Baali), Kalamandalam Sreekumar (Ravana in Thoranayuddham) and Etumanoor Kannan and Margi Vijayakumar (Kacha and Devayani).

Karkotaka (Kalamandalam Hari R Nair) and Bahuka (Kalamandalam Balasubrahmanyan) in ‘Nalacharitham - Day III’

Karkotaka (Kalamandalam Hari R Nair) and Bahuka (Kalamandalam Balasubrahmanyan) in ‘Nalacharitham - Day III’   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The fiesta offered a number of memorable moments. The scenes in Nalacharitham depicting the interaction of the Hamsam with Nala, and then with Damayanthi and her maids, was one of them. Bahuka’s ‘aattam’ that narrates the hero’s journey from the forest to the court of King Rithuparna was well-delineated by Balasubrahmanyan.

In the staging of Dakshayagam, Krishnakumar did a fine job depicting the different stages of Daksha’s animosity towards his all-powerful son-in-law, Siva, even while his heart brims with affection for his daughter, Sati.

Evocative acts

Baali’s subtle humour, even in the midst of his wrath towards Sugreeva, his step-brother, whom he counts as just a deceitful weakling, was evident. The sibling rivalry between them comes to an end when Baali, breathing his last, entrusts his wife and son to Sugreevan.

Krishnankutty’s Hanuman in Lavanasuravadham was majestic but playful and his humorous encounter with Kusa and Lava, the valiant sons of his master, was essayed well. So was Seetha’s heart-rending response to Hanuman’s incidental report that his master was keen on the proper conduct of the ritual Aswamedha yagam (horse-sacrifice), which necessitated the presence of the organiser-in-chief’s wife.

Kalamandalam Pradeep as Hanuman in ‘Thoranayudham’

Kalamandalam Pradeep as Hanuman in ‘Thoranayudham’   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Kalamandalam Pradeep, who donned the role of Hanuman in Thoranayudham, came up with an interesting portrayal of the adventures of Hanuman who crosses the ocean in search of Sita. His escapades in Ravana’s kingdom, his interactions with Ravana himself and his humility during his meeting with Seetha were all essayed deftly by Pradeep.

Kacha teasing Devayani and their bantering was the highlight of Devayanicharitham.

The contribution by the team of vocalists and percussionists and by the make-up and costume artistes helped in making the fete a success. Plays like Nalacharitham and Devayanicharitham require that the musicians be sensitive to the varying moods on stage.

Rendition of Nalacharitham by Sankarankutti and that of Devayanicharitham by Kottakkal Madhu left nothing to be desired. Madhu embellished with appropriate sangatis all the crucial syllables in the play text. He was able to portray the mental state of the character through his rendition.

The percussion was led by veteran chenda artistes such as Unnikrishnan, Krishnadas, Balasundaran, Ravisankar and Venumohan, all alumni of Kalamandalam, and Kalabharathi Unnikrishnan and Sadanam Ramakrishnan while Kalamandalam Achytha Variar, Margi Rathnakaran, Margi Ravindran and Kalanilayam Manoj were on the maddalam.

The make-up part of ‘aaharyam’ led by Margi Raveendran Nair was flawless in all respects.

The programme was organised by Kerala State Tourism Department as part of their annual Nishagandhi Dance Festival.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 8:45:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/reviews/kathakali-performances-as-part-of-nishagandhi-dance-festival-in-thiruvananthapuram/article30683787.ece

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