Theatre

Not for laughs

Ammannur Kuttan Chakyar   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement



Numerous art forms were in vogue in Kerala much before the system of temple worship gained momentum. Eventually, several of these art forms became connected to temples and were compulsorily performed on certain occasions. The survival of art forms such as Koothu and Koodiyattam can be attributed to this. Also, different communities were entrusted with different duties to protect and preserve these art forms.

The Chakyar community has done their bit to preserve the art forms entrusted to them, be it by beautifully correlating present-day events and occasionally mixing it with a tinge of humour as in Chakyarkoothu, or in their role as Vidushaka in Koodiyattam.

The term Chakyar has evolved from the phrase ‘slaakya vaak vaktha’, meaning a person who delivers noble words. But unfortunately many consider him as a comedian, which he is certainly not. The role he is meant to play was highlighted in the recently concluded Gurusmarana festival at Ammannur Gurukulam, Irinjalakuda, where excerpts from ‘Ramayana Prabandham’ Koothu was performed over 12 evenings. Incidentally, this heralded the year-long birth centenary celebrations of Guru Ammannur Madhava Chakyar.

With the experience, expertise and inputs by the Chakyars over the years, the text for the Ramayana Prabandham has evolved, incorporating slokas from various scriptures of Valmiki, Kalidasa, Melpathur and so on. Maestros Ammannur Chachu Chakyar, Madhava Chakyar, Mani Madhava Chakyar and Painkulam Rama Chakyar are credited for the adaptation of the text. It will take not less than 300 hours to present the whole text in a play. Only select parts of the text were presented as part of this year’s festival.

The performers included Ammannur Kuttan Chakyar, Pothiyil Narayana Chakyar, Painkulam Narayana Chakyar, Margi Sajeev Narayana Chakyar, Margi Madhu, Ammannur Rajaneesh Chakyar and Sooraj Nambiar. The true role of a Chakyar was depicted by the artistes in their performances.

The manner in which Kuttan Chakyar delineated the sloka ‘Raamam Dasaratham Vidhi….’ was excellent as he narrated nine meanings to a single sloka by dissecting it and approaching it through different angles. Mizhavu accompaniment was by teachers and students of the Gurukulam.

Mizhavu performance

Artistes led by Kalamandalam Rajeev performed a Panchathayambaka at Ammannur Gurukulam on the opening day of the festival. The percussionists included Hariharan, Ratheeshbhas, Ravikumar and Vineesh. They explored the possibility of assimilating the complex rhythmic patterns of the chenda as they drummed all the stages of a traditional Thayambaka in a structured manner.



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Printable version | May 11, 2021 3:17:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/Not-for-laughs/article14513093.ece

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