Theatre

Of faith in friendship

A scene from ‘Kuchelavritham’ Kathakali with Nelliyodu Vasudevan Namboodiri as Kuchela (centre), Kalamandalam Adithyan as Rukmini (left) and Kalamandalam Balasubramanian as Krishna

A scene from ‘Kuchelavritham’ Kathakali with Nelliyodu Vasudevan Namboodiri as Kuchela (centre), Kalamandalam Adithyan as Rukmini (left) and Kalamandalam Balasubramanian as Krishna   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

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Veteran Nelliyodu Vasudevan Namboodiri showcased his prowess as Kuchela in a presentation of Kuchelavritham Kathakali in Thrissur

Muringoor Sankaran Potty’s Kuchelavritham Kathakali is famous for its musical possibilities and underlying emotion of bhakthi (devotion). This play is about the eternal bond of friendship between two classmates — Krishna, the King of Dwaraka, and Sudama (Kuchela), a poor Brahmin.

Sankaran Potty depended highly on Ramapurathu Warrier’s Kuchelavritham vanchippattu in writing the play text. Though the full text is of around three-and-a-half hours’ duration, nowadays, only the important portions, especially the meeting of Krishna and Sudama, are usually performed. The play was recently staged in Thrissur.

The recital began with the scene in which Sudama’s wife requests her husband to go and meet his childhood friend Krishna to seek his help. The lyrics convey that they are living in abject poverty and their children’s plight is heart-rending. Sudama sets out to meet his friend with a pouch of beaten rice (aval).

The next scene is about Sudama’s journey, in which he is curious and anxious about meeting Krishna after a long time. In the third and final scene, he meets Krishna and his wife Rukmini and the two friends recollect their school days.

Nelliyodu Vasudevan Namboothiri, a master in the role of Sudama, enacted the character with ease and élan. Though his make-up and costumes looked awkward and old fashioned, his expertise in narrating the incidents through mudras and suitable manodharma attams were excellent. However, towards the end of the first scene, he performed ‘Sandhya vandanam’ which looked out of place in that context.

In the padam ‘Danavari Mukundane’ Nelliyodu showed his mastery in his expressions and body language. Kalamandalam Balasubramanian, who played Krishna, did justice to the character. In the padam ‘Kalayami Sumathe’, set in raga Sankarabharanam, he properly blended emotion and energy, as Krishna and Sudama recount their days as students in sage Sandeepani's ashram. In between the enactment of the padam, both Nelliyodu and Balasubramanian made noteworthy interactions and brief manodharma attams, which were appropriate to that scene.

In the presentation of the famous padam, ‘Ajitha Hare Jaya’ in Sreeragam, Nelliyodu maintained the sthayi bhava of bhakti.

Kalamandalam Adithyan as Rukmini and Kalamandalam Arunraju as wife of Sudama came good in their respected roles. Arunraju, especially, stood out with his perfect rendering of mudras and movements.

Pathiyur Sankarankutty was the lead musician with Kalamandalam Vishnu as his deputy. His versatility and selection of ragas were the highlights of the performance.

The percussionists were Kalamandalam Ravishankar on the chenda and Kalamandalam Rajanarayanan on the maddalam.

The performance was organised by Sreebhadram Kala Aswadaka Samithi, at Sreebhadra auditorium at Paliekkara in Thrissur.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 4:59:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/nelliyodu-vasudevan-namboodiri-showcased-his-prowess-as-kuchela/article30345802.ece

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