Soorpanakha’s ire and redemption


Sadanam K Harikumar’s new attakkatha Soorpanakhangam gave a fresh perspective to the character of Soorpanakha

Kathakali playwrights of the past have always heavily depended on the epics for content and context. Recently, Sadanam K Harikumar, presented a new play, Soorpanakhangam, based on The Ramayana. Kottarakkara Thampuran had vividly portrayed the character of Soorpanakha in his play Kharavadham. In his play, Harikumar tweaked the popular story of Soorpanakha by introducing a new character, Sambhukumaran, Soorpanakha’s son, who gets killed by Lakshmana. He also added a scene where an aged Soorpanakha meets Rama after Ravana’s death and attains salvation.

The three-and-a-half-hour play staged at Gandhi Seva Sadanam Kathakali Academy at Pathiripala, Palakkad, began with the scene where Rama, Seetha and Lakshmana reach Panchavadi in the forest and settle down.

In the next scene, Sambhukumaran, who is doing penance, gets attracted to Sita and tries to woo her, only to get killed by Lakshmana. Meanwhile, Soorpanakha is unaware of this and tries in vain to woo Rama and Lakshmana. Lakshmana tries to avoid her by showing her the crown and ornaments of Sambhukumaran and informs her about his death.

An enraged and sorrowful Soorpanakha attacks Sita, but Lakshmana thwarts the move. The events that follow lead to the battle between Rama and Ravana. And finally, Soorpanakha meets Rama and obtains salvation.

This is the seventh attakkatha written and choreographed by Harikumar. Like his previous works, Harikumar stressed on tala in this play as well.

The literature of the text stood out. Although he stuck to common ragas for the composition of the padams, some rare ragas such as Hamirkalyani and Beghada were also used.

Harikumar is known for including strong nrita elements in his plays and this was demonstrated in certain scenes. Sadanam Ramakrishnan excelled on the chenda and supported the artistes.

Peesapally Rajeevan played the role of Soorpanakha. Although his mudras were perfect, he lacked emotional involvement throughout the performance. He excelled in the scene where Soorpanakha is introduced with a new sari dance and his performance in the padam ‘Pulakam poothulanja antharangavum’ was a highlight of the play. However he went overboard with his acting in some portions, making them dramatic, thus diluting the emotional intensity of the situations.

Up-and-coming artiste Sadanam Vipin Chandran did justice to the role of Rama. He was doing a full-length character for the first time. Kalamandalam Neeraj, as Sambhukumaran, was also impressive, with clear and perfect delivering of mudras and kalasams. Other artistes were Sadanam Manikantan (Ravana) and Sadanam Sreenath (Seetha).

Harikumar was the lead singer, supported by Sadanam Sivadas and Sadanam Jyothish Babu. Sadanam Devadas, Sadanam Jayaraj and Sadanam Jithin were the percussionists. The play could have been a notable one, if the Rama-Ravana battle scene was avoided.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 9:11:08 PM |

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