Theatre

Bonds that last

Kottakkal Haridas and Kalamandalam Sucheendranath in ‘Kuchelavritham’ Kathakali.

Kottakkal Haridas and Kalamandalam Sucheendranath in ‘Kuchelavritham’ Kathakali.  

An unabridged version of ‘Kuchelavritham’ was staged in Palakkad, to the delight of rasikas.

‘Kuchelavritham’ Kathakali, written by Muringoor Sankaran Potty, is a popular one in Kathakali repertoire due to its simple lyrics and musical possibilities. It is the tale of Sudama (Kuchela), a poor Brahmin, who receives the blessings of Lord Krishna. The two were once classmates at the ashram of Sage Sandeepani. On his wife’s behest and throwing away the shackles of ego, Sudama goes to Dwaraka, where Krishna lives with his wife Rukmini to request his old friend to help him overcome his poverty. Both Sudama and Sreekrishna catch up with each other and recall their time at the ashram.

Palakkad Kathakali Trust recently organised an unabridged show of the play as part of their monthly programme. It was a rare opportunity for Kathakali enthusiasts to watch the full version of the four-hour-long play. Seasoned and young artistes played their parts well to make this a memorable act.

Kottakkal Haridas, a senior artiste of the PSV Natyasangham Kottakkal troupe, excelled as Sudama. Normally, Kuchela’s costume and make up leave a lot to be desired. The variety in Haridas’ emoting and the effort he had taken with his make-up were noteworthy. His subtle and perfect mudras and mannerisms were the highlights of the show, particularly his presentation of the padam ‘Ajitha Hare.’Sudama’s yearning to see his friend was vividly presented in all the scenes during his journey to Dwaraka.

The role of Lord Krishna was donned by young artiste Kalamandalam Sucheendranath, a faculty member of Kathakali at Shanthiniketan, Kolkata. His performance caught the eye of viewers on account of his crisp kalasams and charming laughter. He showcased his potential as an artiste through a evocative presentation of the padam ‘Kalayami Sumathe..Bhoosura Maule...’

Kalamandalam Adithyan’s role of Rukmini was a perfect match to Sucheendranath’s Krishna. Another notable performance was that of C.M. Unnikrishnan’s. He enacted the role of Kuchelapatni (Sudama’s wife) with élan.

The real entertainment of the evening, however, was during the climax of the show when ace artiste Kottakkal Devadas, known for his thadi roles, got on stage as the punchy vridha, Kuchelapatni’s old maid servant. Usually, these scenes are not presented on the Kathakali stage in this part of Kerala.

It was a time for enthusiasts to relax and cheer after the heart-rending display of emotion in the previous scenes. Devadas’ mannerisms and portrayal of an envious character made the scenes unforgettable.

The musicians explored the melodic possibilities of the play. Kalanilayam Rajeev and Sadanam Jyotish Babu sang the lyrics with the right modulations. Kottakkal Maneesh and Kottakkal Pratheesh on the chenda and maddalam, respectively, added to the success of the show.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 10:50:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/Bonds-that-last/article15623321.ece

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