Theatre

Spotlight on Vidushaka

Vidushaka   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

‘Madhavanaatyothsavam,' a nine-day Koodiyattam festival dedicated to the late thespian Ammannur Madhava Chakyar, was held at Madhava Natya Bhoomi, Irinjalakuda. Very like the three flames of the lamp that is traditionally lit for a Koodiyattam performance, Guru Ammannur Madhava Chakyar made glowing contributions to this art in what can be categorised broadly under three roles – as an accomplished actor, as a versatile Vidhushaka with his oratory skills and satirical remarks, and as a teacher who groomed a generation of artistes.

Rich tributes

This year, the organisers of the fete paid rich tributes to the thespian by stressing on the role of the Vidushaka in different plays. Almost all senior performers in Koodiyattam performed on various days of the fete.

The role of Vidhushaka in Koodiyattam is very important as he often appears as the compatriot of the hero of the play. He is at the same time, an actor in the play as well as a commentator of the play. Even though humour is the basic mood of a Vidhushaka, he also enlightens the audience with his wisdom.

“The jester makes use of the audience as characters of the play as and when required, thereby redefining the space of performance arena,” says scholar M.V. Narayanan. The jester also creates his own space and he has got the freedom to temporarily suspend the play, deviate from the main story, to incorporate in his remarks day-to-day events and also to criticise the social as well as the political scenario prevailing at that time.

Impregnated in his humorous remarks are criticisms that may pave the way for social reforms.

Ammannur Kuttan Chakyar, a disciple and nephew of Madhava Chakyar, reminiscences about his mentor thus: “The way in which he cleverly used tonal modulations and mannerisms in depicting the characters were distinctive, and the ability to merge with them was his hallmark. His expression of ideas, emanating from his own experience, made a telling impact on the audience.”

Three types

Generally, three types of Vidhushakas are seen in Koodiyattam. One extols Buddhism as in ‘Mantharaankam,' the second protests against Buddhist ideals as in ‘Bhagavatajjukiyam' and the third represents deteriorating Brahmanical values as seen in ‘Subhadradananjayam.' The three classifications more or less correspond to three periods of Kerala history.

Incidentally, these three types were showcased at the festival. While Margi Madhu enacted Vasanthaka in ‘Manthrankam,' Kalamandalam Ramachakyar perfected the role of Saandilya in ‘Bhagavatajjukiyam.' Sivan Namboodiri, Kalamandalam Sailaja and Margi Sathi made their presence felt in the roles of Parivraajaka, Vasanthasena and the maid, respectively. Kuttan Chakyar was at ease while handling the roles of Aathreya (‘Naaganandam'), Kaundinya (‘Subadradhananjayam') and Madavya (‘Saakunthalam'). The way Kuttan Chakyar handled the trilingual dialogues comprising unrefined and refined Sanskrit and Malayalam was proof of the rich legacy imbibed by him from his guru.

Margi Sajeev Narayana Chakyar as Paraasarya (‘Thapate Samvaranam') justifiably juxtaposed humour with social criticism. P.K.G. Nambiar donned the role of Vasanthaka in ‘Swapna Vaasavadhattam,' presented by Mani Madhava Gurukulam.

Ammannur Rajaneesh Chakyar, as representative of the next generation, proved his mettle in the role of Kaundinya in ‘Subhadradhananjayam.' In addition to these performances, there were lectures on various aspects of the Vidhushaka by eminent scholars and teachers in this field. The fete was held under the aegis of Ammannur Gurukulam and the Kuttiyattam Kendra.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 11:02:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/Spotlight-on-Vidushaka/article16215544.ece

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