Festival Friday Review

Enthralling aural and visual imagery on stage

T.M. Krishna   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

This year’s edition of the Museum Fest at Edappally took off with an English Play, ‘The Lady of Burma’, by British playwright Richard Shannon. The solo, directed by Prakash Belawadi and enacted by Rukmini Vijayakumar, Bharathanatyam danseuse and theatre actor, portrays the struggle and life of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar. Through his brilliant and powerful script, the playwright tried to explore the person behind the life of the committed political leader who was kept under house arrest for nearly 20 years.

Noble mission

The play was set in a hospital of a prison in Rangoon [Yangon], where Suu Kyi was admitted after an assassination attempt in 2003. Isolated and distressed, Suu Kyi, the protagonist of the play, narrates the significant events of her life, sharing her memories with the spectators and touching their heart.

Rukmini breathed life into the character and took the audience through the tumultuous events in Suu Kyi’s life that transformed the mother and wife into a persuasive and bold leader. Apt use of sound effects and background music by Pallavi Iyer supplemented Rukmini’s superb act.

Unconventional recital

T.M. Krishna says in his book, A Southern Music, that in a kutcheri, we seek a collective experience of musicians’ roles, pattern of presentation and aesthetics. His recital on the second day of the Museum Fest seemed to be yet another attempt to find an ideal format for the kutcheri. He requested the listeners not to consider it as a conventional kutcheri as “nobody is performing here for anybody”.

The thrust of the recital was on the aesthetics of music and the musicians adhered to the slow tempo for a major portion of the bhava-laden renditions. Krishna started his recital with the Tyagaraja composition ‘Rama bana trana saurya’ in Saveri. Violinist R.K. Sreeramkumar, who sat abreast with the vocalist, brilliantly supported the vocalist and led the recital’s flow occasionally.

This was followed by an elaborate bhava-laden ragalapana in Sahana. But, surprisingly, it led to an elaborate tanam in Hamsadwani, followed by a Hamsadwani varnam recital. Percussionists Manoj Siva (mridangam) and Udupi Sreedhar (ghatam) performed an impressive taniavarthanam.

Krishna next sang the Pancha-linga kriti ‘Jambupathe’, a composition of Muthuswamy Dikshitar’s in Yamunakalyani. The slow and soulful rendition was a soothing experience for the listeners. The Swati Tirunal compostion ‘Pahi tarakshupuraalaya’ in raga Anandabhairavi, which Krishna sang next, had detailed ragalapana and kalpanaswara segments. After a Kambhoji ragalapana he sang the Pallavi of ‘Anandanatanamatinar…’ set to Misra Triputa.

The percussionists played a brief taniavarthanam that was followed by a ragamalika. After a detailed Surutti ragalapana he sang the Gujarati bhajan ‘Vaishnav Jan to….’. Krishna wound up the recital with a Bengali song of Dwijendralal Ray.

Call of the wild

The fete concluded with the staging of the play ‘Night’ End’, written and directed by Dr. Gowri Ramnarayan under the aegis of JustUs Repertory, Chennai. The play reminds us about the significance of the eco-system through a wonderfully crafted story that also highlights the issue of our diminishing tiger population.

The play unfolds in a village in Rajasthan and it progresses mostly through a soliloquy of two characters who appear in alternate sequences – Krishnan Nair, a forest guard, and Chandini, a tribal girl living in the forest. The playwright highlights various issues connected to conservation and how poachers make life miserable for all the forest dwellers. Woven into the play are the several conflicts of interest that threaten the fragile ecosystems.

Sreejith Krishnan, a trained Kathakali actor, excelled in the role of Krishnan Nair. Apt and meaningful padams from ‘Karnasapadam’ and ‘Nalacharitham’ were incorporated into the plays and Sreejith excellently portrayed these sequences.

Akhila Ramnarayan excelled in the role of Chandini. Lighting by Venkitesh Krishna and audio by Prem were commendable.

The programme was organised by the Madhavan Nair Foundation.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2020 9:06:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/enthralling-aural-and-visual-imagery-on-stage/article6679036.ece

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