Fragrance of art emanated through the nuances of Kathakali
- Sreelakshmy Govardhanan

September 6, 2014

In the wind a flower came, it softly rested on the ground, near the feet of Panchali....

Kalyanasougandhikam is a beautiful flower from the bouquet of plays penned by Kottayathu Thampuran. When Bheema and Hanuman rule the play and Draupadi adds grace to it, a silent yet salient presence of Vayu (the Wind) is felt throughout the play. The flower Kalyanasougandhikam which came in the wind changed the course of life for Bheemasena. Panchali wished to have more of those rare beautiful flowers for herself which Bheema was all willing to get and went in search of it. The destiny was to meet his brother Hanuman in his journey to find Kalyanasougandhikam. Hanuman and Bheema were brothers, as they were both born of Vayu, from Thretha yuga and Dwapara yuga respectively. This play witnesses a touching union of the brothers in the end.

A one day lecture demonstration and Kathakali recital based on the play Kalyanasougandhikam was organized by Poorvi, a nonprofit art organization in association with Parambikulangara Devaswam Kodungallor. It was conducted under the guidance of the most prominent Kathakali artist of today, Peesapilly Rajeevan. With his in-depth knowledge in the subject along with his natural flair for humour, the lecture demonstration was raised to another level.

Peesapilly Rajeevan and Aadithyan

Peesapilly Rajeevan as Hanuman

The objective of Poorvi is to deal with arts in an academic perceptive and believes that the art of art appreciation and art presentation should go hand in hand. Doing full justice to the concept,  Peesapilly Rajeevan took the audience to a greater level of understanding and appreciating Kathakali. He was ably assisted by Kalamandalam Adithyan in the demonstration, Viswas on the vocal,  Nandakumar on the chenda and Venu on the maddalam, who all stood out in their respective arts.

The evening ended with a grand presentation of Kathakali, Kalyanasougandhikam. Kalamandalam Pradeep donned the role of Bheemasenan and made it etched in the minds of the audience while the young promising artiste Adithyan did justice to the role of Panchali. Pradeep interpreted the state of mind of Bheema very well, Bheema roaming through the forest and knocking down the trees on his way. His own interpretation of viewing each tree as Kourava and destroying all of them with vengeance was brilliant.

Peesapilly Rajeevan breathed life into the character of Hanuman. From the very first scene where Hanuman is disturbed during his meditation by the rampant approach of Bheema to Kadalivana (the dwelling of Hanuman), Rajeevan followed a traditional approach of body language to the portrayal of the character. Though Vella thaadi (costume of Hanuman) is not much done by Rajeevan, he did full justice to the character. The padam Panjala raja thanaye in Sankarabharanam, en kanava in Mukhari, Aariha varunnithivan in Madhyamavathi was beautifully rendered by Kalamandalam Hareesh in the precise way sung in Kottayam Katha. He was ably assisted by Viswas on the vocal. Nandakumar on the chenda, Venu on the maddalam, delivered in the right amount during the padam and manodarma presentation. All the artists together made the evening a memorable one.

Pradeep as Bheeman and Rajeevan as Hanuman

Bheeman and Panchali

The day also witnessed a seminar based on the topic ‘Kathakali appreciation in current scenario’ by K.B. Rajanandan and M.J Sreechithran. They spoke about the evolution and current status of literature and the acting styles in Kathakali today. The seminar was moderated by Murali Master. The founder head of Poorvi, Remesan Nambissan spoke about the significance of addressing different aspects of Kathakali to the audience. He also addressed the relevance of organizing intensive workshops and lecture demonstrations of different Indian classical art forms for upcoming artists, to groom their skill and kindle their creative energy. The intention of organizing a festival should not be just a show off but an in-depth approach to understand and appreciate the art form.

This one day seminar on Kathakali is the second venture of Poorvi. Poorvi began with Mudrakhyam, a 5 day intensive workshop on introducing the mudras used in Koodiyattam. The classes were conducted by noted Koodiyattam artiste Sooraj Nambiar. With high aspirations, Poorvi intends to stretch her wings in arranging cultural exchange programs within the country.

Sreelakshmy Govardhanan is a Kuchipudi artiste and an art enthusiast.