Theatre

Play of emotions

Ettumanoor P Kannan as Nala

Ettumanoor P Kannan as Nala   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

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Ettumanoor P Kannan got into the skin of the character as he essayed Nala who is consumed with guilt for deserting his wife

“Oh Devas, the mighty rulers of the world! The fruits of your blessings, once tender and sweet, have now become useless.” Nala, the erstwhile King of Nishadha, looked up to the heavens and started pleading with the Gods.

An enthralled audience in Thiruvananthapuram recently witnessed the enactment of the first two scenes of Nalacharitham - Monaam Divasam by Ettumanoor P Kannan.

The performance started with ‘Lokapalanmare...’ in Thodi raga. This padam portrays a desperate, perplexed and heartbroken Nala, the king in exile, pleading to the Gods to grant him peace. Kannan clearly conveyed the mindset of the king, who had lost his kingdom to his brother and deserted his wife in the forest due to Kali’s influence.

Nala initially questions the Gods for their indifferent behaviour towards him, even though he worships them daily. He goes on to say that nobody would respect them if they treat their devotees in such a manner.

Ettumanoor P Kannan as Nala

Ettumanoor P Kannan as Nala   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

His mood, however, soon shifts to supplication, wherein Nala starts pleading with the Gods to take care of Damayathi and never let him lose his mind due to excessive sorrow.

Kannan was impressive in handling this transition with effective use of face and body. His elaborations at certain junctures need special mention, especially the part where he prayed to the Gods to take care of Damayanthi.

The second scene portrayed Nala reaching a philosophical frame of mind and enjoying a temporary state of calm and bliss. The padam ‘Khoravipinam …’ in raga Kalyani was a perfect blend of abhinaya, music and percussion. In this padam, the king fools himself into believing that being in the forest is better than living in the palace and the city.

While the two padams were enacted with precision and perfection, the highlight of the performance was the crisp and effective manodharma attam towards the end. The whole attam was pegged around the bleakness in Nala’s life, thus doing justice to the literature of Nalacharitham.The first ray of hope Nala receives is from Karkodaka after he bites Nala. Kannan avoided long segments and resorted to short and crisp nuggets that made the attam effective.

Another highlight of the performance was when Nala fluctates between hope and guilt. Nala, trying to console himself, compares himself with Parameswara. Nala says that even Lord Siva must have had bad patches in his life. However, he feels guilty as he recollects how Lord Siva had never deserted his consort Parvathi. The guilt is intensified when he sees a pregnant cow elephant being escorted by a male during a forest fire.

The performance ended with Nala hearing a request for help from within the forest fire and steps into the fire.

Kannan was ably supported by Pathiyoor Sankarankutty and Nedumbulli Rammohan on the vocal. The percussion was led by veterans Kalamandalam Krishnadas on the chenda and Margi Rathnakaran on the maddalam.

The programme was conducted by Navabhava, Thiruvananthapuram.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 12:54:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/ettumanoor-p-kannan-essayed-nala-who-is-consumed-with-guilt-for-deserting-his-wife/article30459919.ece

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