Koodiyattam Ammannoor Kuttan Chakyar donned the role of Bali in ‘Balivadham Koodiyattam,’ which was staged to pay homage to Ammannoor Madhava Chakyar
PHOTO: K.K. NAJEEB
THE FALL OF BALI: Ammannoor Kuttan played Bali in Balivadham Koodiyattam.'
‘Balivadham’ is the first act of Bhasa’s Abishekanatakam. Traditionally, after preludes such as Purappadu and Nirvahanam, ‘Balivadham Koodiyattam’ used to be performed on the fifth day of a Koodiyattam performance. In the late Sixties, Paimkulam Rama Chakyar condensed the choreography to two to three hours. Ammannoor Madhava Chakyar fine tuned the scene by depicting the death of Bali using ‘swara vayu’ techniques that he had mastered from Kodungalloor Kunjunny Thampuran. Gradually, the role of Bali had become one of the most renowned portrayals of Ammannoor.
Recently, it was the turn of Ammannoor’s senior disciple and nephew, Ammannoor Kuttan Chakyar, to don the role of Bali in ‘Balivadham Koodiyattam.’ The play was staged by Ammannoor Chachu Chakyar Smaraka Gurukulam under the auspices of Kerala Sangeet Natak Akademi, as a tribute to the late Ammannoor Madhava Chakyar. The play narrates the story of Bali, king of Kishkkinta, and his brother Sugreeva. Intense sibling rivalry forces Surgeeva to take refuge in Rissyamukha Mountains. The fear of a curse stops Bali from entering the mountains. Finally, Sugreeva takes the help of Rama who kills Bali.
Bali’s emotional dialogues just before his death evokes sympathy for him. In addition to the poignant scene that portrays Bali’s death, the late Ammannoor had made two significant contributions to the play. One was the change in Bali’s mood – from veera to sringara – when he notices his wife, Tara, holding on to his clothes to prevent him from going for the battle. The other was the theatrics for enacting ‘Palazhimadhanam’ (churning the ocean of milk).
The seasoned Kuttan Chakyar’s brilliant depiction underscored his ability to uphold the legacy of his guru.
Paucity of time curtailed a detailed exposition. Appealing was Kuttan Chakyar’s voice modulation as his voice travelled from the thunderous ‘Katham katham Sugreeva’ to the dying king’s helpless ‘Bho Raghava…’
Ranjit Chakyar, Rajneesh Chakyar and Sooraj Nambiar enacted Sugreeva, Rama and Hanuman respectively. Ammannoor Madhav acted as Lakshmana with Kalamandalam Sarita as Tara. The mizhavu was played by outstanding young artistes like Kalamandalam Rajeev, Hariharan, Narayanan Nambiar and Ravikumar. Kalanilayam Unnikrishnan accompanied on the edakka while Kalamandalam Divya provided thalam.
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