Theatre

Spectacular appeal

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Tale of an Anklet explored the dramatic intensity and theatrical possibilities of the original text

Chilappatikaram –Tale of an Anklet, couched in diverse dance idioms, was staged recently by Bangalore Club for Kathakali and the Arts with a cast of more than 70 artistes. Conceived by Lalitha Das and directed by Meena Das Narayan, the performance was choreographed by eminent Kuchipudi exponent Veena Murthy Vijay, and featured talented young artistes in lead roles and a host of dancers drawn from various institutions headed by distinguished gurus. Music direction was by Praveen D. Rao.

Based on the timeless classic penned by Elankovadikal, the presentation explored the dramatic intensity and theatrical possibilities inherent in the text to telling effect. Excellent lighting and special effects, an exceptional musical score and vocalization, appropriate use of props, vivid English narration supplementing the specially commissioned Sanskrit lyrics, and bright backdrops were used to underscore the outstanding choreography, which drew from Kuchipudi, Bharathanatya, Kathak, Odissi,Chau, Kathakali and Mohiniattam, with folk elements and Kalaripayattu sequences adding verve and vigour. Aspects of life, traditions and customs prevalent in the land centuries ago were successfully evoked, and the universality of the human predicament as enshrined in the story ensured that there was never a dull moment during the recital.

Prateeksha Kashi’s portrayal of the accomplished courtesan Madhavi was vivacious and vibrant. It also bore testimony to much versatility and stamina, switching styles and costumes in accordance with accompanying groups of Kuchipudi, Odissi, Mohiniattam and Kathak dancers with finesse and seamless continuity. Shama Krishna played Kannaki, a paragon of virtue and beauty, and communicated effectively the serenity and maturity of the character, and her transformation, due to the vicissitudes of life and a travesty of justice, into an embodiment of feminine fury and power. Great expertise, endurance and energy were evident in Mithun Shyam’s representation of Kovalan who was once affluent, who falls on hard times through his own folly, and is executed for no fault of his. The technical prowess and histrionic abilities of the three lead artistes were major factors in the success of the evening.

The multifarious components of the show coalesced smoothly to form an organic and absorbing whole. That the large number of dancers on stage executed their parts with absolute synchronization and timing, with perfectly co-ordinated entries and exits, bore testimony to the great effort put in by all participants and the organisers as well. Editing of certain sections such as some of the prolonged pure dance segments, and extension of certain others such as the scene leading up to Kovalan’s break up with Madhavi, could be considered in future editions of the performance to further enhance the dramatic appeal.

The introduction of the three Kathakali artistes attired in imposing chuvanna thadi costumes, with the stage bathed in a red glow, a raging fire as the backdrop, and riveting percussion and sound effects together symbolising the city aflame, was a masterstroke that had spectacular visual and aural impact. The deification of Kannaki at the end ushered in a sense of tranquillity and solace, a fitting finale to a superbly conceived and executed presentation.



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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 8:21:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/spectacular-appeal/article7818331.ece

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