Theatre

When love is in the air

Sadanam Bhasi as Hamsam and Kalamandalam Pradeep as Nala

Sadanam Bhasi as Hamsam and Kalamandalam Pradeep as Nala   | Photo Credit: Jawaharji K

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Kathakali enthusiasts were treated to a recital of the episode where the Hamsam turns matchmaker for Nala and Damayanti

The captivating tale of Nala, Damayanti and the Golden Swan (Hamsam), which was staged recently in the capital city, proved to be a treat for connoisseurs of Kathakali on account of the excellent performance of all the participants.

The opening scene depicted Sage Narada paying King Nala a visit. The sage, who knows of Nala’s interest in Damayanti, the princess of Vidarbha, intensifies the King’s feelings for her by delineating her virtues. He also encourages him to win her hand even though the gods are infatuated with her.

Margi Vijayakumar as Damayanti

Margi Vijayakumar as Damayanti   | Photo Credit: Jawaharji K

Kalamandalam Pradeep’s Nala took the cue from Narada, enacted by Margi Sukumaran. Nala is now thoroughly convinced that Damayanti is the most suitable bride for him, and as thoughts about her fill his mind, he entrusts various administrative responsibilities to his ministers and retires to the palace garden, seeking solitude.

The young actor’s presentation of Nala’s pangs of love and his interaction with Hamsam, who becomes his confidante, showcased his acting skills, which he imbibed from great teachers in Kalamandalam.

Sadanam Bhasi as Hamsam did his job as matchmaker, well, using a blend of realism and stylisation. He also succeeded in portraying the sincerity of Nala’s message for Damayanthi. His scintillating dance-interludes (‘kalaasams’) before quickly assuming the posture of the swan by balancing on one leg were admirable.

Margi Vijayakumar as Damayanti, accompanied by Kalamandalam Jishnuravi and Kalamandalam Aromal as her close companions, captured the attention of the audience from start till the end. Make-up and costume helped the artistes to be in sync with the characters.

Ppadams, ‘Puumakanum mozhimaatum…’ and ‘Minnal kkoti irangi…’, were well choreographed. The dramatic effect collectively built up by a series of imaginative and contextually appropriate innovations was outstanding.

Kalamandalam Pradeep as Nala

Kalamandalam Pradeep as Nala   | Photo Credit: Jawaharji K

Evocative interactions between Vijayakumar and Bhasi succeeded in depicting even the subtle feelings and emotions of the the heroine’s.

Bhasi’s performance did full justice to the playwright’s portrayal of Hamsam as a messenger extraordinaire capable of touching the depths of the human heart. Kottakkal Madhu’s musical rendition of Unnai Warrier’s play-text was superb. He was ably assisted by Vengeri Narayanan. The veteran singer embellished his rendition with an astonishing array of sangatis till the end of the play, which lasted for four-and-a-half-hours.

The percussion was handled by Kalamandalam Sreevin on the chenda and Margi Rathnakaran and Chunakkara Aji on the maddalam. The percussionists were in sync with the artistes on stage. Rathnakaran and Sreevin impressed the connoisseurs by dexterously simulating the love-lorn Nala’s futile attempt to get some solace by playing musical instruments like the veena and the mridamgam.

The performance was held under the aegis of Drisyavedi.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 1:19:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/kathakali-enthusiasts-were-treated-to-a-recital-of-the-episode-where-the-hamsam-turns-matchmaker-for-nala-and-damayanti/article30512906.ece

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