A new story for Kathakali repertoire; fans upbeat

ALWAYS ENCHANTING: Sadanam Krishnankutty, Kathakali artiste.  

The Kathakali aficionados at the Changampuzha Cultural Centre are all waiting anxiously. On August 27, they will stage the premiere of a new story.

The play, titled Sabarimala Dharma Sastha, is penned by none lesser than Kalamandalam Kesavan. Senior artistes like Sadanam Krishnankutty and FACT Padmanabhan will be appearing in the first show of the new story. Other artistes being Kalamandalam Sreekumar, Kalamandalam Krishnakumar, RLV Radhakrishnan, Kalamandalam Shanmughan, RLV Gopi, Elamakkara Ranjith and Biju Bhaskar.

The story begins with Lord Siva granting a boon to Soorpaka, that he could kill anyone by a mere touch. Later, Mahavishnu had to disguise as a damsel, Mohini, to kill the demon king. This serves as a prologue to the story of Sastha.

The story progresses through his life as son of royal family of Pandalam and ends with Parasurama consecrating the Sastha idol at Sabarimala.

"I have been working on this theme for quite long. I have used new ragas in this story and also a lullaby, which is not common in Kathakali," said Kesavan. This is the second Kathakali on Sastha's story - the first one being Sree Dharma Sastha by V. Narayana Raja.

The Union Ministry of Culture has agreed to extend financial support to the Changampuzha Cultural Centre in staging this performance. Two officers of the South Zone Cultural Centre are expected to attend the staging.

Kathakali had been a strong presence at the Changampuzha Park, Edappally.

So strong that aficionados decided to form Edappally Kathakali Aswadaka Sadas a couple of years back. The idea was to organise at least eight performances of Kathakali and other ritual arts. This they had been doing it successfully - staging Chakyarkoothu, Nangyarkoothu and Ottanthullal along with Kathakali.

Staging of Sabarimala Dharma Sastha is going to be another proud moment for the members of the sadas.

The group had also brought out a souvenir to mark its completion of two years, which included tributes to their founding members like the late P.K. Godavarma and the late B.P. Prabhakara Menon, who was the founding secretary of the sadas.

The sadas has also drawn out plans to commemorate the first death anniversary of Prabhakara Menon on September 4. A Kathakali performance, Kiratom, will be staged on that day.

Anand Haridas