Many playwrights in Kathakali have depended heavily on the Mahabharatha for content and subject for attakathas. Kottayathu Thampuran and Irayimman Thampi concentrated on the ‘vanaparvam’ (life in the forest) and ‘virataparvam’ (life in disguise in the kingdom of Viratam) segments of the epic for their plays. However, Vayaskara Aryan Narayanan Mooss wrote an attakkatha named Duryodhanavadham in which Duryodhana becomes the main character.
Excerpts from Duryodhanavadham Kathakali was performed recently in Palakkad. The story began with Duryodhana meeting his brothers before visiting Indraprastha, the abode of the Pandavas. Seasoned ‘kathi vesham’ artiste Kalamandalam Soman enacted the title role with aplomb. Soman maintained the ‘sthayibhava of veeram’ (dominant mood of heroism) throughout, though he looked a little low on energy towards the end. The best part of his act came in the first and third scenes.
His mastery over such roles was clearly visible in the third scene where Duryodhanana meets Sakuni. Kottakkal Devadas enacted the role of Dussasana with energy and emotion.
Right from his entry, Devadas entertained with his character’s mannerisms. Though his acting in the scene where the Kauravas enter the palace looked a tad below his usual standards, his artistry and spontaneity were commendable. Devadas’ movements and power-packed kalasams (dance) enthralled the packed crowd.
The chemistry between the two artistes were evident. However, lack of proper support from the percussion diminished the tempo of the first two scenes.
Kalamandalam Kuttikrishnan, another experienced artiste, portrayed the role of Sakuni with ease and elan. Haripriya Nambudiri essayed the role of Panchali (Draupadi) and she highlighted her versatility in certain scenes.
Kottakkal C.M. Unnikrishnan enacted the role of Lord Krishna towards the end of the show. His conversation with Duryodhana was an excellent piece of work. Unnikrishnan’s perfect display of ‘mudras’ and ‘kalasams’ made the scene entertaining. Another notable performance came from Arya Parapore, who also performed Duryodhana in the play. Arya regaled the audience with her powerful execution of dance and mudras.
Kottakkal Harikumar, in the role of Raudra Bheema, was competent in his short performance. Kottakkal Hareeswaran (as a version of Dussasana) and Sadanam Vipin Chandran (as Yudhisdhira) were the other artistes. The music too played its part in the success of the overall performance.
Kottakkal Madhu, who was supported by Sadanam Shyamalan, Nedumpally Rammohan and Abhijith Warrier, rendered the lyrics well.
The programme at MD Ramnathan Hall was organised as part of the monthly performance of Palakkad Kathakali Trust.