Noted percussionist Mattannur Shankarankutty Marar presented the Veera Sringhala to Kathakali artiste Kottakkal Devadas, marking the conclusion of Sudevam, the event in the latter’s honour here on Sunday. Veera Sringhala is an honorary ornament presented to accomplished artistes from various fields, usually by their fans.
Vice Chancellor of Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit M.V. Narayanan, who inaugurated the event, appreciated the role of Kottakkal Devadas in making the lesser popular Thadi characters in Kathakali more glorious and vigorous during his long career as an artiste. “I wouldn’t call it popularising the roles, but depicting them in a novel way to make them look better,” Mr. Narayanan said, adding that Devadas frequently took up such lesser important roles and improvised on them in such a way that more people felt drawn to Kathakali.
"The Thadi roles have less cultural capital when compared to the Pacha or Kathi roles. Bringing them to notice is a bigger challenge than performing a them," he added. He also said that Devadas gave a different dimension to such roles, which was difficult, and getting appreciation for such efforts was even tougher.
Film maker Sharath Haridaasan, who is working on a documentary on Mr. Devadas, in his presidential address, said the artiste had great energy in him while performing, and he often forgot to take care of his body while enacting his favourite roles. “Mr. Devadas came to the field of Kathakali out of passion, unlike many of his contemporaries who were forced into it by poverty or chance,” he said, adding that the event Sudevam was supposed to be held in Guruvayur two years ago, but was postponed due to COVID.
Managing trustee of Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala P.M. Varier and president of Thodayam Kathakali Yogam P. K. Krishnanunni Raja were present on the occasion. The two-day event was inaugurated by K. Ramachandra Adiga, priest of Sree Mookambika Temple at Kollur in Karnataka.
A variety of cultural programmes like Carnatic music by Sadanam Harikumar, Ottan Thullal by Krishnapurathu Murali and group, Thayambaka by Panamanna Sashi, Mohiniyattam by Kalamandalam Rachita Ravi, Double Thayambaka by Shobhita Krishnadas and Rahitha Krishnadas, Kathakali music by Kottakkal P. D. Namboothiri and Kalamandalam Mohanakrishnan, and Kathakali Nalacharitham Moonnam Divasam and Prahlada Charitham were held as part of the event.