Theatre

Hanuman in Lanka

Ammannur Rajneesh as Hanuman in 'Hanumandoothangam.'   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

‘Hanumadhoothangam' is the second of the seven acts of ‘Abhishekanatakam,' written by Bhasa. It is rarely staged, unlike other acts of the play such as ‘Balivadham' and ‘Thoranayudham.' The attaprakaram – the acting manual – for the play was written by the late legend Ammannur Madhava Chakyar, and he had also directed it. This act was staged for this year's annual Kootiyattam festival of the Sree Koodalmanikyam temple, Irinjalakuda.

As the name of the act implies, the story is all about Hanuman's (who is acting as Rama's messenger) meeting with Sita in Ravana's sprawling garden in Lanka, where she is being held captive.

The performance started with the Purappad. On the basis of Sampadi's hints, Kakubha, a member of the ‘Vanara pada,' tells his comrade Bilamukha that Hanuman has crossed the ocean and has gone to Lanka in search of Sita. This scene is intended to apprise viewers of the situation and plot of the drama. A grief-stricken Sita then enters the stage, consoling herself with the hope that one day she would be saved by Rama.

Detailed exposition

The performance on the second day of the festival detailed Hanuman's purappad. Rejuvenated after hearing the genesis from Jambhavan, Hanuman reaches Lanka and starts searching for Sita. On the third day of the fete, Nirvahanam of Hanuman was performed along with ‘Anukramam' and ‘Samkshepam.' Each and every incident in the story, such as Hanuman's encounters with Maalyavaan mountain and with the demons Surasa and Simhika, and his entry into Lanka were enacted in detail. The highlight of this scene is that a wide range of techniques are employed while describing the various episodes; a wide canvas of emotions are portrayed within a limited space and time. Here Hanuman describes in detail his panoramic view of beautiful Lanka, abundant with majestic buildings. He finds a beautiful woman in the garden and confirms that it is Sita. In the meantime, Ravana enters, and Hanuman hides himself in a tree.

Encounter in the garden

The Kootiyattam was staged on the fourth day of the fete. Ravana tries to woo Sita but she rebuffs his advances. Dejected, he retires to his palace. Afterwards, Hanuman, who had been watching the scene unfold from his hiding place in the tree, climbs down and gives Sita Rama's ring. In return Sita gives him the Choodamani and Hanuman leaves the garden to meet Ravana.

Ammannur Kuttan Chakyar donned the role of Ravana and Aparna Nangiar enacted Sita. Ammannur Rajaneesh dexterously handled the role of Hanuman, both for the Nirvahanam and the Kootiyattam. Ammannur Madhav essayed Bilamukha and Hanuman in the Purappad scene too. Kalamandalam Narayanan Nambiar, Chandran Nambiar, and Sivadas played the mizhavu, while Jayan took care of the edakka. Indira Nangiar and Devi Nangiar accompanied on the thalam.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 7:22:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/hanuman-in-lanka/article2435558.ece

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