Keeping the Kathakali flame alive

K. Santhosh

Masterly performances at a festival in Thrissur to encourage young artistes indicate that Kathakali’s future is bright.

Thrissur: Anyone who watched a five-day festival organised by Natyapriya at the Sankarankulangara temple here in the past week would say that Kathakali was in safe hands.

The festival sought to highlight emerging young talent. It also indicated that the glory and classical purity of Kathakali may not ebb away after the masters have gone. The young actors featured have grown up watching the likes of Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair, Padmanabhan Nair, Gopi, Kottakkal Sivaraman, Balasubramanian and Sadanam Krishnankutty. The influences are evident. And who knows? Time may even shape a young actor into a modern-day Sivaraman or Balasubramanian.

Organisers assigned the major role in each day’s performance to an up-and-coming actor. Kalamandalam Soman played Ravana of Ravanotbhavam and Jarasandha of Rajasuyam. Harinarayanan, Shanmughan and Sadanam Bhasi donned the roles of Narakasura of Narakasura Vadhom; Rugmangada of Rugmangada Charitham; and Hanuman of Lavanasura Vadhom, respectively.

Soman excelled in the role of Ravana, in the Kathi category, with breathtaking Pakarnattom (interpretative acting) sequences that depicted Ravana’s fierce penance and remembrance of his mother’s sorrow.

This role has been etched to perfection by masters such as Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair. He himself was around to watch Soman’s performance.

Soman’s versatility was patent when he played Jarasandha. The acting brought to fore Jarasandha’s wily ways and wicked sense of humour.

Shanmughan and Sadanam Bhasi were equally good in their roles.

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