Theatre

Women take centrestage

A scene from 'Nivathakavacha Kalakeyavadham'

A scene from 'Nivathakavacha Kalakeyavadham'   | Photo Credit: special arrangement



Kottayathu Thampuran’s contributions to Kathakali is remarkable and incomparable. Thampuran wrote four attakkathas based on the epic Mahabharatha. Although male characters such as Yudhisthira, Bheema and Arjuna are the central characters in these four plays, he gave equal importance to female characters too.

Among them, Urvashi of ‘Nivathakavacha Kalakeyavadham’ and Lalitha of ‘Bakavadham’ and ‘Kirmiravadham’ are important, both in terms of the importance of the character and scope for performance. While Urvashi is the more difficult and challenging of the two on account of its technical finesses, an artiste has to turn to his own reading of the play text to interpret the role of Lalitha in ‘Kirmiravadham’ because this character is a creation of Thampuran’s and not the one referred to in the Mahabharata.

A Kathakali performance was held at MD Ramanathan Hall in Palakkad recently with Urvashi and Lalitha in focus.

Kalamandalam Balasubramanian, who excels in playing male characters, enacted the role of Urvashi in full for the first time in his five-decade-long career. He used to do female characters in the early days of his career. Balasubramanian came good in the first scene where Urvashi opens up to the maid in the padam ‘Pandavante roopam kandal’.

The artiste was in full flow while performing mudras and movements. His acting stood out for perfection and clarity, which the Kalluvazhi chitta strictly adheres to. Kalamandalam Arun Warrier [maid] and Kalamandalam Chinosh Balan [Arjuna] were the other artistes. Madambi Subramanian Nambuthiri’s rendition of the padams evoked nostalgia among discerning fans of Kathakali, as he is a stickler to tradition. Sadanam Shyamalan accompanied him.

In ‘Kirmiravadham’, Kalamandalam Shanmughadas essayed Lalitha with ease. However his involvement in the character was lacking in some scenes.

Although he raised the expectation of the rasikas in the first scene where he performed the padam, ‘Nallar Kulami Aniyum’, in the second scene he was in too much of a hurry during his performance. Kalamandalam Praveen donned the role of Panchali.

Even though Kottakkal P.D. Nambuthiri impressed with his singing, there was a lack of sync between the actor and the singer.

The event was organised by Palakkad Kathakali Trust to document the music of Kalamandalam Madambi Subramanian Nambuthiri, a leading exponent of Kathakali music.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2020 3:16:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/Women-take-centrestage/article14500893.ece

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