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New life for Koodiyattom act

Koodiyattom artistes of Mani Madhava Chakyar Smaraka Gurukulam revive `Kaliyaankam,' a forgotten act in Bhasa's `Balacharitam.'


IT WAS a red-letter day for Koodiyattom aficionados. For the first time in the history of this theatrical art, `Kaliyaankam,' the fourth act of Mahakavi Bhasa's Sanskrit play `Balacharitam,' was staged in Koodiyattom form by the artistes of Mani Madhava Chakyar Smaraka Gurukulam at Kalakathu Bhavan, the Kunchan Nambiar memorial at Killikkurissimangalam, Lakkidi.

The two-day event, sponsored by the Department of Culture, New Delhi, was significant on many counts. It marked the 106th birthday of Mani Madhava Chakyar, the doyen of Koodiyattom.

Till date, only the first act of `Balacharitam,' which dwells upon the childhood of Lord Krishna, has been seen on the stage. The Chakyar traditionally makes his debut enacting the role of `Sutradharan' in this ankam. The remaining four acts have so far been uncharted waters for him.


Kaliyaankam

Thanks to the efforts of Panivadatilakan P.K. Narayanan Nambiar and P.K.G. Nambiar, sons of the late Mani Madhava Chakyar, `Kaliyaankam' has got a new lease of life. The `Kramadeepika' (stage manual) for the act, composed around 400 years ago, was taken out from old manuscripts that were gathering dust at the Gurukulam library.

The Attaprakaram has been composed by Narayanan Nambiar himself.

Interestingly, Narayanan Nambiar has used a new dance form called `Hallisakam' in this pioneering effort.

The act also features a new talam, Malla, which incidentally has been mentioned in `Tala Prastara' (a book that mentions 59 talas and was written by Ramapani Vadan, who according to some people could have been Kunchan Nambiar himself).

Till now, such common characters as Kaliyan and Krishna were alien to Koodiyattom. Not any more.

Of the 13 dramas composed by Bhasa, `Balacharitam' is based on Bhagavatham.


Kuzhalpattu

The programme also saw the revival of Kuzhalpattu, an age-old art form. Kuzhalpattu is a musical interlude in Koodiyattom, featuring mizhavu as an accompaniment to kurunkuzhal and edakka. Leading the show was Narayanan Nambiar.

A book on Koodiyattom (`Manjusha') and a CD on mizhavu (Talam), both funded by UNESCO, were released by T.I. Radhakrishnan on the second day. `Manjusha' has articles by Rajendran, Akavoor Narayanan, K.P.C. Anujan Bhattathiripad, and Ponnangod Gopalakrishnan on the various aspects of Koodiyattom - vachikam, abhinayam and aharyam. It also has chapters on Vidushakan (by P.K.G. Nambiar), Natankusham (by P.K. Narayanan Nambiar), Padhakam (by P.K. Narayanan Nambiar), Gandharva Sangeetam (by Leela Omcheri), and an article, titled `The Logic of Rhythm,' by the former Polish Ambassador to India Christopher Brisky. `Talam' is a treatise by noted Mizhavu exponent Narayanan Nambiar on the various talas used in Koodiyattam. The CD was released by Rama Iyer of Thiruvananthapuram-based Margi. Sangeet Natak Akademi award-winner Kidangoor Rama Chakyar was felicitated on the occasion. Earlier, Manikya Meledam Shekhari Varma inaugurated a koothumizhavu and kalivilakku, sponsored by the Palakkad District Tourist Promotion Council, at Kalakathu Bhavan.

The mizhavu was officially handed over to the Kunchan Smarakam authorities after customary rituals by the chief priest of Killikkurissimangalam Temple.

The entire act was performed in two days, beginning with `purappadu.' The sight of the dreaded serpent with 100 hoods, as it exhales poisonous fumes, eyes blazing, was terrifying. Both Kalamandalam Raveendran (Krishnan), and Harish Nambiar (Kaliyan) put up a good show. The act ended with Krishna banishing Kaliyan, along with his family, to Ramanakam island.

Margi Ramachakyar (Balabhadrar), P.K.G. Nambiar (Vriddha Gopalan), P.K. Raghavan Nambiar (Bhadan), Vasanti Narayanan, Sangeeta and Aparna (Gopikas), Margi Unnikrishnan, P.K. Unnikrishnan, P.K. Narayanan Nambiar and P.K. Ajith (mizhavu), P.K. Amminikutti and C.K. Jayanthi (talam), Trikkangottu Shashi Potuval (edakka), Pazhayannur Govindan (kuzhal), and Kalanilayam Shankaran (chutti), Sreejith, Sharath, Avinash, Sreeraman, Sreeraj (aniyara) also contributed to making the show a success.

Established in 1982, the gurukulam has done its bit to promote Koodiyattom. It has staged many prominent plays, such as `Swapna Vasavadattam,' `Matta Vilasam,' `Shankuntalam,' `Vikramorvashiyam,' `Malavikagnimitram,' and `Naganandam' outside Kerala.

NAVEEN NAMBOODIRI

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