One of the oldest theatre forms in
the world, Kathakali originated in what is now Kerala.
It combines spirituality and skill with symbolic storytelling
to create a vibrant and powerful form of drama. Several
dancers play characters from stories or themes of Hindu
mythology, particularly the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
An attractive make-up code, elaborate costume and a
highly developed language of gesture make Kathakali
a stylized dance form. Literally meaning 'story-play',
Kathakali dates back to, perhaps, the 17th century.
The form flourished for several generations among a
learned and appreciative audience in Kerala before nearly
succumbing in the early 20th century to loss of royal
patronage and arrival of the British. Poet Vallathol
Narayana Menon and Mukunda Raja, a member of the royal
family, together founded Kerala Kalamandalam and revived
this art form. Time was when only men performed in the
dance-drama. They would dress up as women and wore a
distinctive make-up to portray female characters. A
traditional performance begins in the evening and continues
through the night, concluding at dawn heralding the
victory of good over evil. The light, the vocal accompaniment
and drums set the tone for an extraordinary experience:
the actor becomes the epic character to unveil primordial
moods and transport the audience to a world beyond the
Balakrishnan (Kerala) - Kathakali - 21 October 2010 (Thursday)
Initiated by Guru Kondiveetil Narayanan Nair
under the patronage of late Brahmashri Kurumathur Narayanan
Namboothiripad, Sadanam Balakrishnan was deeply interested
in Kathakali since childhood. Born in 1944, Shri Balakrishnan
trained intensively for a decade under famous gurus Thekinkattil
Ramunni Nair and Keezhupadam Kumaran Nair at the Gandhi Seva
Sadan Kathakali Academy. During his training under the outstanding
contemporary Shri Keezhupadam Kumaran Nair, he blossomed into
a fine artiste and competent teacher. Outstanding in his ability
to slip into important Kathakali characters with skill and
ease, Shri Balakrishnan has been acclaimed highly by both
the media and the audience. He is rated as one of the most
outstanding teachers in this discipline today and is much
sought after by Indian and foreign institutions and artistes
for conducting workshops, lecture-demonstrations and recitals.
Narakasuravadham, from the Bhagavat Purana,
is one of the frequently staged pieces in the Kathakali repertoire.
At the request of Indra to be delivered from the atrocities
of demon king Narakasura, Shri Krishna mounts the divine bird
Garuda and heads for Pragjyotishapuram, the capital of Narakasura.
His consort Satyabhama also accompanies him. Vivida and the
five-headed Murasura are the two militant companions of Naraka,
who is the son of Bhudevi. The demon has been blessed with
a boon that none but his own mother will be able to kill him.
A terrible battle ensues between Krishna and Naraka. Krishna
is on the verge of defeat. Just then Bhama, the reincarnation
of Bhudevi, takes away Narayanashastram from Naraka and enables
Krishna to kills him with his Sudarshana Chakra. He slays
Murasura while Vivida – also defeated – runs away.
Krishna crowns Naraka’s son as heir apparent and gives
protection to 16000 women prisoners of Naraka by accepting
them as his wives. Krishna receives a grand welcome in Dwaraka
as people celebrate the victory of light over darkness.