Breathing life into Kutti Kunju Thankachi’s play

April 21, 2015 12:00 am | Updated 05:46 am IST - THRISSUR:

Kathakali actor Kalamandalam Rajeev plans to choreograph and stage ‘Sreemathy Swayamvaram’, a Kathakali play (Aattakkatha) written by Kutti Kunju Thankachi (1820-1904).

Thankachi, the daughter of Irayimman Thampi, a composer and contemporary of Maharaja Swati Tirunal, has written Aattakathas such as ‘Parvathiswayamvaram’ and ‘Mithrasahamoksham’. ‘Sreemathy Swayamvaram’ is a lesser-known play.

“It is a hidden gem. The project I have initiated with the support of the Union government is intended to popularise such little-known Kathakali works,” says Mr. Rajeev.

He has been experimenting with little-known and new Kathakali plays for a while. He recently presented at about 10 venues a Kathakali adaptation of Vyloppilli Sreedhara Menon’s celebrated poem, ‘Mambazham’.

“The adaptation was intended to drawn young minds to Kathakali. I have presented Kathakali appreciation programmes in nearly 500 schools and colleges,” he says.

He has also been researching on the portrayal of Lord Krishna in Kathakali, Krishnanattam and Yakshagana. Love for the character of Krishna is natural for the actor because he excels in this role.

He has also played to perfection the roles of Arjuna (‘Kalakeyavadhom’), Bheema (‘Kalyanasougandhikam’, ‘Bakavadhom’), Harischandra (‘Harischandracharitham’), Nala (‘Nalacharitham’), Kacha (‘Kachadevayani Charitham’), Duryodhana (‘Duryodhana Vadhom’), Ravana (‘Thoranayudham’, ‘Balivadhom’) and Brahmana (‘Santhanagopalam’).

Son of Kathakali actor Mayyanad Kesavan Namboodiri, Mr. Rajeev is a graduate from Kerala Kalamandalam Deemed University for Art and Culture. He won the A.D. Bolland gold medal for the best student of Kalamandalam in 1994.

He learnt the basics of Kathakali from his father. He received advanced training from Kalamandalam Vasu Pisharody, Balasubramanian, Gopalakrishnan and Ramdas.

Mr. Rajeev’s debut performance was at Kalarivathukkal Siva Temple at Valathungal in 1983.

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