Reviews

Episodes from the Mahabharata were presented at ‘Mahabharatham Kathakali Mela’ in the capital city

Kalamandalam Neeraj as Roudra Bhima in ‘Duryodhanavadham- Utharabhagam’ staged at Drisyavedi’s ‘Mahabharatham Kathakali Mela’

Kalamandalam Neeraj as Roudra Bhima in ‘Duryodhanavadham- Utharabhagam’ staged at Drisyavedi’s ‘Mahabharatham Kathakali Mela’   | Photo Credit: Jawaharji.K

more-in

Seasoned performers brought on stage significant chapters from the epic at the festival organised by Drisyavedi

‘Mahabharatham Kathakali Mela’, a six-day fete of Kathakali plays held in Thiruvananthapuram, saw select scenes from seven episodes of the epic being staged on six evenings.

Kalamandalam Gopi appearing in the opening scene as Arjuna, the charming hero of Subhadraharanam who wins the hand of Lord Krishna’s sister Subhadra (Kalamandalam Vipin), contributed significantly to the grandeur of the fete. After showcasing gracefully all the nuances of emotional-cum-gestural acting in the slowest tempo, as if forgetting his age and surprising the rasikas, the doyen burst into an astute but short dance-interlude (‘kalaasam’) that prompted Kalamandalam Krishnadas on the chenda to be in perfect harmony with the kinesis.

Kalamandalam Gopi as Arjuna and Kalamandalam Vipin as Subhadra in ‘Subhadraharanam’ staged at Drisyavedi’s ‘Mahabharatham Kathakali Mela’

Kalamandalam Gopi as Arjuna and Kalamandalam Vipin as Subhadra in ‘Subhadraharanam’ staged at Drisyavedi’s ‘Mahabharatham Kathakali Mela’   | Photo Credit: Jawaharji K

Kalamandalam Krishnakumar held the audience spellbound as Balabhadra, with his sterling performance portraying even subtle context-bound emotions. Adithyan, Athul and Pravin, all alumni of Kalamandalam, handled the minor roles (Indra, Krishna and the Brahmins) diligently.

On the second day, in Vadakkan Rajasooyam, Devadas and Nandakumaran Nair, thespians of the Kottakkal School, vied with each other in making their roles of Jarasandha and Sisupala, in red beard and kathi make-up respectively, masterful. Ananthu, Parthasarathy, Athul, Prasanth and Arunraju, all trained at Kalamandalam, presented the other roles, leaving nothing to be desired.

In Bakavadham, Kalamandalam Krishnakumar and Kalamandalam Jishnuravi delectably presented the unique romantic scene delineating Bhima as the embodiment of manliness and the demoness Hidumbi, disguised as Lalitha, the enchantress.

Margi Suresh as Bakan in ‘Bakavadham’ staged at Drisyavedi’s ‘Mahabharatham Kathakali Mela’

Margi Suresh as Bakan in ‘Bakavadham’ staged at Drisyavedi’s ‘Mahabharatham Kathakali Mela’   | Photo Credit: Jawaharji K

Portrayal of the demon Baka by Margi Suresh was excellent. Kottakkal Ravikumar, Margi Sukumaran and Kalamandalam Athul enacted the roles of Bhima in the second segment, Kunti and Ghatolkacha respectively. Kalamandalam Ananthu presented both Sage Vyasa in the opening scene and the Brahmin in the closing one. Athul impressed as Ghatolkacha with his footwork.

A scene from ‘Duryodhanavadham- Poorvabhagam’ staged at Drisyavedi’s ‘Mahabharatham Kathakali Mela’

A scene from ‘Duryodhanavadham- Poorvabhagam’ staged at Drisyavedi’s ‘Mahabharatham Kathakali Mela’   | Photo Credit: Jawaharji K

In Durodhanavadham - Poorva Bhagam, the Kaurava queen Bhanumati’s jealousy for Draupadi’s prosperity is considered as the root source of the war. Duryodhana, consoling her and declaring that he would leave the Pandavas’ palace only after humiliating them and subsequent events till Duryodhana’s exiling of his cousins were enacted impressively by ace actors like Margi Vijayakumar (Draupadi), Kalamandalam Hari R Nair (Dussasana), Kalamandalam Pradeep (Duryodhana) and Margi Sukumaran (Bhanumati). They were complemented by Kalamandalam Sudeep (Dharmaputra), Pranav Pradeep (Bhima) and Kalamandalam Vivek (Sakuni).

As the penultimate piece of the fete, the action-packed scenes in Duryodhanavadham-Utharabhagam, which included Draupadi’s heart-rending entreaty to Krishna while exhibiting her dishevelled hair and Bhima’s slaying of Dussasana, were presented with commendable histrionic prowess. The team of performers consisted of Kalamandalam Vaisakh (Krishna), Kalamandalam Vijayakumar (Draupadi), Kalanilayam Vinod (Duryodhana), Kalamandalam Parthasarathy (Dussasana) and Kalamandalam Neeraj (Raudra Bhima).

Krishna was depicted inappropriately as sprinkling sanctified water from his conch, Panchajanya, to relieve the Kauravas from their spell before exiting the scene of the failed conciliatory mission. A similar impression was created when the Lord was shown as inflicting capital punishment on Sisupala in Rajasooyam by physically placing the Sudarsanachakra on the villain’s neck.

(From left) Oyoor Ramachandran as Kirathasthree, Kalanilayam Gopi as Kirathan and Kalamandalam Shanmukhan as Arjuna in ‘Kiratham’ staged at Drisyavedi’s ‘Mahabharatham Kathakali Mela’

(From left) Oyoor Ramachandran as Kirathasthree, Kalanilayam Gopi as Kirathan and Kalamandalam Shanmukhan as Arjuna in ‘Kiratham’ staged at Drisyavedi’s ‘Mahabharatham Kathakali Mela’   | Photo Credit: Jawaharji K

In Kiratham, Kalamandalam Shanmukhan, Kalanilayam Gopi and Oyoor Ramachandran essayed Arjuna, the hunter (Kirathan) and his wife (Kirathastree) respectively. Yadu Krishnan and Vashnavi appeared as Lord Siva and Goddess Parvati in the final scene and Pranav and Prayag as the hunter’s assistants. Shanmukhan’s presentation brought to light the salient feature of Arjuna, namely undivided attention to his goal of procuring formidable weapons from Siva and propitiating Him at any cost, although his ego had never subsided in full. Gopi’s hunter aesthetically interpreted the epithet of Siva that is predominant in the play-text, namely ‘the one who protects the universe by mere play’ (‘Leelayaa akhilalokapaalaka’). Ramachandran harmoniously intermingled the roles of the divine mother and that of the consort of Siva.

Margi Vijayakumar as Kunthi and Kalamandalam Sreekumar as Karna in ‘Karnasapatham’ staged at Drisyavedi’s ‘Mahabharatham Kathakali Mela’

Margi Vijayakumar as Kunthi and Kalamandalam Sreekumar as Karna in ‘Karnasapatham’ staged at Drisyavedi’s ‘Mahabharatham Kathakali Mela’   | Photo Credit: Jawaharji K

Performance of seasoned actors Kalamandalam Sreekumar and Margi Vijayakumar as Karna and Kunti in Karnaspatham made the single scene worth reminiscing. Kunti cautiously approaches Karna, who wants to meet his real parents at least once before his imminent death. Although he is attracted towards her by an invisible force, his discerning intellect appears to pull him back. From this point till the end, the play provided a feast of aesthetics.

Kottakkal Madhu’s mellifluous rendering of the play text, supported diligently by Kalamandalam Hareesh, added layers of innovation to the performance. But for a few slips in the introductory quatrain of Duryodhanavadam, the rendering led by masters such as Pathiyoor Sankarankutty and Kottakkal Madhu and supported by a host of up-and-coming singers was impeccable. The percussion had Kalamandalam Krishnadas and Kalamandalam Balasundaran on the chenda and Margi Ratnakaran and Kalamandalam Hariharan on the maddalam.

Deplorably, only the Kiratan’s skirt conformed to its conventional length and shape. But for this the ahaaryam (make-up-cum-costumes) was fine. The programme was organised by Drisyavedi in connection with its 32nd Natyolsavam.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

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

Printable version | Jan 22, 2020 11:45:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/reviews/mahabharatham-kathakali-mela-organised-by-drisyavedi-as-part-of-its-annual-natyolsavam-in-thiruvananthapuram/article30034759.ece

Next Story