Night-long Kathakali

ASK ANY Kathakali lover, he would tell you that the real beauty of the art blooms late in the night. On second thoughts, he might add it is great relief to find at least a couple of hours of uninterrupted acting moments.

The Ernakulam Kathakali Club and Kerala Fine Arts Society joined hands to organise a full-night of Kathakali, to satiate wishes of this minority.

Those gathered at the Fine Arts Society hall on a rainy evening last Friday found almost all of the big names in Kathakali there.

Two plays were staged that night. The first one, second day of Nalacharitam, featured Nelliode Vasudevan Namboodiri as Kali, Kalamandalam Gopi as Nalan, Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair as Kattalan and Kalamandalam Balasubramanium as Pushkaran.

This galaxy was followed by Banayudham, which is rarely presented in these parts. Madavoor Vasudevan Nair was Banan, and Kottakkal Sivaraman is Chitralekha.

``There are a lot in the city who contribute to the cause of the Club. So we organise full-night shows in appreciation of their gesture,'' says A. D. Krishnan Asan, president of the Club.

However, there are doubts whether the Fine Arts Society hall is the right venue to present a Kathakali performance. Aesthetically, it is best to watch a Kathakali actor from the same eye-level. Or so say lovers of this art form.

As one of the old timers chipped in, proscenium and flood lights make a `kabandam kali' (which could be translated roughly as a play of corpses) of Kathakali. An argument strongly refuted by those like Mr. Asan.

``Usually, we organise our monthly performances at the TDM Hall. And there is not much of a difference between that stage and the one at the Fine Arts Society hall. So there is no point in this.''

At the end of it, what really mattered was a night spent in company of the best among Kathakali actors of present times.

By Anand Haridas

Photo: H. Vibhu