Presenting 'Matthavilasom'

THE CITY-based cultural centre, Margi, is breaking new ground by presenting the play, `Matthavilasom', written by Mahendra Vikrama Pallava in 700 AD, in the `kutiyattam' format.

Margi's revival of the play in full in seven days is based on the performance manual provided by P. K. Narayanan Nambiar, son of the renowned Mani Madhava Chakiar.

The `nataka bhaga' of the play, that is, the portion featuring more than one character, is to be presented on Friday and Saturday. In the first part, being presented at the Theerthapada Mandapam, the main character, the Kapalin, and his spouse, Devasoma, enact a hilarious sequence wherein they extol the merits of the God of liquor.

In the process, they throw light on the social life in Kanchi, the capital of the Pallava kingdom, in the 7th century.

The second and concluding part on Saturday, which has five characters, will be presented in the koothambalam of the Vyloppilly Samskrithi Bhavan.

This part is described as being even more hilarious than the first. It revolves around a conflict between the Kapalin and a Buddhist monk over the loss of the Kapalin's Saivite symbol, an alms bowl made of skull-bone.

Margi Narayanan appears as the Kapalin and Margi Sathi as Devasoma.

The play has always been favoured by Chakyars for presentation in the kutiyattam format owing to its hilarious and farcical content.

Though performed in full with all characters on stage in the early days, later versions ended up as a ritual presentation with a single character in temples.

By M. Harish Govind

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