Test of devotion

  • By Hindu
  • | Thursday | 14th September, 2017

However, just before he harms his son, Lord Vishnu and saves the day. She is sent by Brahma to lure King Rugmangada and stop him from observing Ekadasi, to pay obeisance to Lord Vishnu. Kalamandalam Gopi and Margi Vijayakumar, two seasoned artistes, yet again shared the stage in Alappuzha recently, taking the roles of Rugmangada and Mohini respectively. Kalamandalam Gopi efficaciously travelled through all these emotions while presenting Rugmangada in distress. Kalamandalam Praveen appeared as Lord Vishnu.

Kalyanangi Aninjidum..., the Kathakali adaptation of the tale of Rugmangada, penned by Mandavappalli Ittiraricha Menon, starts with this saari dance introducing Mohini, the heavenly enchantress. She is sent by Brahma to lure King Rugmangada and stop him from observing Ekadasi, to pay obeisance to Lord Vishnu. Kalamandalam Gopi and Margi Vijayakumar, two seasoned artistes, yet again shared the stage in Alappuzha recently, taking the roles of Rugmangada and Mohini respectively.

Mohini succeeds in wooing the king and agrees to be his consort, but only if he promises her to fulfil every wish of her’s. The scene is pretty straightforward but what made it riveting was the actors’ ability to go beyond the text and add their own connotations in a meaningful way. The chemistry between Gopi and Vijayakumar worked well here, and they even succeeded in creating some lighter moments during their extempore act after the padams, though the stature of their characters give little space for such improvisations.

The next scene shows Brahmins (two will do, three is fine, but four came in here, which was kind of overdoing it) praising the King for not halting his Ekadasi rituals, even though he's completely under the spell of Mohini. RLV Biju Bhasker took the lead with three youngsters who hardly seemed ready for the stage.

The play turns sombre as Mohini approaches Rugmangada on an Ekadasi day and asks him to leave his rituals to spend time with her. The King tries to reason, but fails, and is heartbroken as Mohini asks him to behead his only son, if he wants to observe Ekadasi without breaking his vow to her.

Vijayakumar did present Mohini's tender side as well by repeatedly asking the king to leave aside his ritual and spare his son's life. Given the situation, depicting the character in a good light is somewhat hard to achieve. As her obstinacy becomes more pronounced, Vijayakumar's Mohini in this instance looked even more villainous in comparison with his usual take of the character.

Anguish, angst and anger. Kalamandalam Gopi efficaciously travelled through all these emotions while presenting Rugmangada in distress. For those who watch him closely, the usual flow of gestures was somewhat missing. However, it hardly affected the portrayal in its wholeness. His Rugmangada pleads to Lord Vishnu to take the form of Narasimha and save his son as he saved Prahlada by killing the guilty father. However, just before he harms his son, Lord Vishnu and saves the day.

Kalamandalam Sooraj made an impression in his short role of Dharmangada, the son who is willing to die to keep his family's honor. Kalamandalam Aromal, as Rugamangada’s wife Sandhyavali, could have done more than just show a long face throughout the recital. Kalamandalam Praveen appeared as Lord Vishnu.

It was the emotionally rich rendering that made the scenes compelling. Pathiyoor Sankarankutty was at his best and Kalamandalam Krishnakumar complemented his senior counterpart. Percussion can make a whole lot of a difference even in a play like Rugmangadacharitham, as was proved by Kalamandalam Krishnadas with his versatility on the chenda. Kalamandalam Achutha Warrier did his part well on the maddalam.

The performance was staged by Kisalayam, a group formed by a few art enthusiasts, along with I. Isthak Foundation.

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