Theatre

Lordly Ravana

Kottakkal Chandrasekharan as Ravana and Kalamandalam Rajasekharan as Rambha in 'Ravana Vijayam' Kathakali. Photo: Thulasi Kakkat   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

The highlight of ‘Ravana Vijayam,' staged in Kochi recently, was a masterly performance by Kottakkal Chandrasekharan as Ravana and Kalamandalam Rajasekharan as Rambha. The performance, which began with a majestic Thiranottam of Ravana, kept the audience enthralled throughout its duration.

‘Ravana Vijayam,' penned by Kilimanoor Rajaraja Varma Koyithampuran, is an exceptional work in Kathakali repertoire. Enriched with lyrical beauty and embedded with splendid similes, the work is popular for its dramatic sequences. It also offers many challenging sequences to the actors to prove their prowess. These days, only two of the original 10 scenes of the play are staged.

After his coronation, we see Ravana becoming more and more arrogant, believing himself to be the supremo of all kings. In the first scene, Dhoothan, a messenger sent by Ravana's brother Vaisravanan, meets Ravana and advises him to lead a righteous life now that he is King. But the well-meaning advice only angers Ravana, and he beheads the messenger.

In the later scene, while Ravana is resting in the foothills of Kailasa after a day of vigorous fighting, he encounters the beautiful Rambha who is on her way to meet her sweetheart Kubera, son of Vaisravana.

Charmed by her beauty, Ravana attempts to woo her. Rambha rebuffs Ravana's advances, and pleads with him to consider her as a daughter because of her relationship with Kubera. Despite her pleas, Ravana violates her modesty and she curses him.

Exquisite expressions

Chandrasekharan's depiction of the arrogant and amorous Ravana was simply brilliant, what with his intense acting that was embedded with exquisite expressions and vibrant gestures. His kalasams were perfect and his rapport with the singers and percussionists was admirable.

Rajasekharan as Rambha aptly depicted the predicament of the character, especially her attempts to tactfully evade Ravana's advances. The Dhoothan's role was enacted by Kalamandalam Radhakrishnan. He moved with ease and his footwork and kalasams were praiseworthy.

Another feature of the performance was the excellent rendition by vocalists Kottakkal Narayanan and Vengeri Narayanan. Both artistes adhered to the old Kathakali tradition, especially during their rendition of the padam ‘Ekakini, charasi…”

Percussionists Kalamandalam Raman Namboodiri on the chenda and Kalamandalam Prakasan on the maddalam well supported the actors. The performance was organised under the aegis of Ernakulam Kathakali Club and Ernakulam Karayogam.


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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 3:17:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/lordly-ravana/article2514629.ece

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