One of the oldest plays in the art form was staged in Ernakulam.
OF MALICE AND AMBITION: Margi Vijayakumar as Kaikeyi and Margi Harivalsan as Mandhara in `Vichinnabhishekam.'
When Kottarakara Thampuran (Veera Kerala Varma) composed `Ramanattam,' which eventually came to be known as `Kathakali,' he composed a cycle of eight plays.
`Puthrakameshti,' `Seethaswyamvaram,' `Vichinnabhishekam,' `Kharavadhom,' `Balivadhom,' `Thoranayudham,' `Sethubadhanam,' and `Yudham' were the plays. The stories were were based on the `Ramayana.'
Except `Seethaswayamvaram,' `Balivadhom' and `Thoranayudham,' the other plays are rarely performed. `Vichinnabhishekam,' the third play of the cycle, which was recently staged in Ernakulam, under the aegis of Ernakulam Kathakali Club, enthralled spectators. A large number of Kathakali enthusiasts had gathered to witness the staging of one of the art form's earliest plays. Incidentally, it was staged to coincide with the Ramayana month celebrations.
The story of `Vichinnabhishekam' begins with King Dasaratha looking forward to the coronation of Rama. Kaikeyi, persuaded by Mandhara, insists that King Dasaratha honour the two promises he made to her. When the king agrees, she demands the coronation of her son Bharatha and that Rama be sent to the forest for 14 years. Rama accepts his father's decision, consoles him and promises to make arrangements for Bharatha's coronation.
The performance was limited to just this part of `Vichinnabhishekam.' The story is, however, longer.
The highlight of the play was the excellent performance of Inchakad Ramachandran Pillai, Margi Vijayakumar and Margi Harivalsan in the roles of Dasaratha, Kaikeyi and Mandhara respectively.
Margi Vijayakumar skilfully portrayed Kaikeyi's transformation from a contented and cheerful queen to the egotistic and greedy mother, influenced by the malicious influence of Mandhara. Margi Harivalson in the role of Mandhara fascinated spectators with his expressive gestures and spontaneous creativity. Margi Suresh as Sumantrar and Margi Sukumaran as Rama were the other actors.
Margi Venugopal on the chenda and Margi Ratnakaran on the madhalam captured the mood of the performance very well. The songs by Kalamandalam Krishnankutty and Margi Dhamu were also impressive.
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