Duel in the sky

Ammannur Rajaneesh Chakyar as Ravanan and Nepathya Yadukrishnan as Jadayu in Ammannur Chachu Chakyar Gurukulam's Jadayuvadham Koodiyattam organised by BEAME

Ammannur Rajaneesh Chakyar as Ravanan and Nepathya Yadukrishnan as Jadayu in Ammannur Chachu Chakyar Gurukulam's Jadayuvadham Koodiyattam organised by BEAME   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat


The staging of Jatayuvadham Koodiyattam in Kochi was marked by exemplary performances by the artistes

Sakthibhadran’s Ascharyachoodamani (Wondrous Crest-jewel) is one of the weighty plays in the repertoire of Koodiyattam offering tremendous scope for the fourfold concept of acting— angika, vachika, aharya and satwika. Jatayuvadham (The killing of Jatayu), the fourth ankam (act) of Ascharyachoodamani, zeroes in on an arrogant Ravana in confrontation with Jatayu, the mighty bird, who makes an unsuccessful yet bold attempt to save Sita from the former. Staged at TDM Hall, Ernakulam, the excerpt was an aesthetically gratifying treat to rasikas of traditional Sanskrit theatre.

Prior to the performance, K.G. Paulose succinctly spoke about the craft and content of Jatayuvadham, which gave the uninitiated among the audience an entry into the language and texture of Koodiyattam.

Ammannur Rajaneesh Chakyar as Ravana trying to console a weeping Sita he had abducted and placed in the flying chariot, Pushpaka, left an indelible impression on the minds of the spectators with his impressive identification with the character.

Overwhelmed by the beauty of Sita, Ravana praises Sita’s charm. Rajaneesh, with precise hand gestures and subtle expressions, showed the audience Sita’s braided hair, elongated eyes, charming face, her physique and lotus-like feet. The actor then proceeded to the structured improvisation in which Ravana describes his combat with the digwajaas (elephants safeguarding eight directions) and the valour with which he received scars on his broad chest, all of which were created by the tusks of each elephant.

Jatayu responding (from behind the stage) to the laments of Sita attained an unusual theatrical height as Nepathya Yadukrishnan robustly modulated his voice. In a short while, Ganesh Krishna’s Sootha (charioteer) remarkably articulated the tempestuous advancing of the mighty bird, Jatayu, towards the chariot from the sky. The scene then gave way to the entry of Jatayu. Yadukrishnan could bring to the stage the refreshing grace of indigenous Lakshmi tala while enacting the actions of a bird (Pakshistobha).

As the friend of king Dasaradha, Jatayu impatiently rushes towards the chariot. Ravana dismisses him summarily and orders Sootha to drive it away.

Yadukrishnan as the defiant Jatayu compellingly portrayed the three major incidents of the past that led to the humiliation of Ravana— his hands being crushed under the mountain Kailasa, his imprisonment by the invincible Karthaveerarjuna and the mortification he suffered at the hands of monkey-king, Baali. Despite the limitations imposed by the ‘beak’ of Jatayu, Yadukrishnan spontaneously switched from one character to the other during Pakarnattam. Rajaneesh commendably expressed the gravity of the shame enveloping Ravana as he listens to Jatayu and hurriedly takes leave.

The duel between Ravana and Jatayu was awe-inspiring. Rajaneesh could make the audience feel the discomfort caused by the sharp-edged beak of the bird all over the body of Ravana and the inevitable tumbling down of Jatayu as the king of Lanka cuts down its wings with his weapon Chandrahasa. The closing moment in which Sita blesses Jatayu and the Sootha’s words referring to his master, Ravana, being too self-absorbed and apathetic was emotionally loaded.

Kalamandalam Manikandan and Rahul on the mizhavu and Dinesh Warrier on the edakka intensified the visuals by means of their adroit beats. BEAME, a cultural body of bank employees, organised the event in association with Ernakulam Karayogam.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 2:55:46 PM |

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