Dance

Episode skilfully recreated

Koodiyattam performance of ‘Sikhinisalabham,’

Koodiyattam performance of ‘Sikhinisalabham,’  

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The Koodiyattam performance of ‘Sikhinisalabham,’ was a solo act with nuanced portrayals

The third episode in the Pandavayanam series staged under the auspices of Uthareeyam was the Koodiyattam performance of ‘Sikhinisalabham,’ an extract from Act One, Day Three of the Sanskrit drama ‘Subhadradhanajayam’, authored by king Kulasekharavarman in the 11th century. It was held at the Ayyappan Temple, K.K. Nagar.

Kalamandalam Krishnendu presented a succinct lec-dem before the performance.

Illustrating the 24 mudras codified in the Hasta Lakshana Deepika, followed by the navarasas, she explained that Koodiyattam’s four-fold abhinaya includes angikam, sathvikam, vachikam and aharyam. Once the preserve of specific communities both performance and patronage-wise, this art form was essentially ritualistic, being staged only within temple precincts. However, societal restructuring and the role of Kalmandalam in taking Koodiyattam to public venues ushered in changes. The legendary Painkulam Rama Chakyar’s significant contributions to the art form propelled a shift in emphasis from ritualistic to aesthetic overtones. From an exhaustive performance spread over 11 days, he systematised the core content into compact segments of two and a half hour duration which could be enacted as coherent standalone modules.

When Arjuna intrudes on the privacy of Yuddhisthira and Draupadi as he enters their chamber to take his weapons, he is excused. However, Arjuna chooses to abide by the terms of the Pandavas’ agreement, in accordance with which he must leave the kingdom for a specified period. Smitten by descriptions of Subhadra, the sister of Lord Krishna, he decides to head for Dwaraka to meet her after his pilgrimage. The solo act narrative took off from this point.

Arjuna (Kalamandalam Sangeeth Chakyar) through a sloka, conveys that Kama, god of love, has done him a favour, as he will soon get the opportunity to greet and embrace his dearest friend, Krishna. The fact that Arjuna opts to go to Dwaraka instead of returning immediately to his mother and brothers, testifies to the depth of his tenderness for Subhadra.

The high point came with the four wondrous scenes Arjuna witnesses en route, at the hermitage of great saints – moths that fall into the homa agni, instead of being incinerated, are actually rejuvenated and fly away unharmed; a tigress suckles a baby deer; a baby elephant pulls at a lion’s canine assuming it to be a lotus stem; a snake licks a mongoose to sleep. Here, beings who are natural enemies actually live in harmony. Each incident was initially enacted solely through eye movements. Then, in contrast, the whole was re-enacted with eye, facial and body movements. Sangeeth’s remarkably nuanced portrayals brimmed with the most minute details, communicating drama without overplaying and subtlety without underplaying, a difficult mix to achieve.

In the hands of Kalamandalam Ravikumar and Sajith Vijayan, the mizhavu (drum) whispered, cajoled and thundered, achieving an impactful narrative voice – a remarkable feat, considering that Koodiyattam features no vocal music to establish atmosphere, unlike Kathakali. In the snake-mongoose episode, Ravikumar coaxed an astounding range of modulations, well beyond the conventional, from the drum head. While Krishnendu marked the tala, Kalamandalam Sudheesh on edakka blended in unobtrusively and also handled the makeup (chutti) and splendid costume. The artists did their guru, Kalamadalam Rama Chakyar, proud.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 4:42:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/dance/Episode-skilfully-recreated/article14628536.ece

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