Thursday, July 30, 2009

…and the Final Exit

WWW.OKGOT.COM Rajan P Dev bid his final exit; from films, theatre that was his passion and from this world itself.

The mainstream Kerala theatre of the eighties was in confusion, a standstill, and people were already talking about the demise of this powerful art form, which once decided the fate, life and times of Keralites. The plays are not having the same pungency as it used to have in the sixties, leave alone the red fifties. The themes and structure of the plays were not appealing anymore, the performance style become stale and musty, and naturally the audience turned away. Everyone was desperate and was looking for a new style, form and vigor.

It is at this juncture that Rajan P Dev made his entry as Kochu vava in the play Kattukuthira, written and directed by SL Puram Sadanandan for his company Surya soma. This play dared to shift into a different mode of narration, from the run of the mill plot, development, and characters. The theme of the play remained progressive and proletarian, but devoid of a hero who is in the mould of a young idealistic, straightforward, chocolate face. The hero was substituted by an antihero, with a darker history, with vengeance crystallized inside as venom, and who do not care for the set moralities and codes of conduct of the establishment. The birth of this kind of a protagonist needed a new actor with a totally different approach to acting and characterization. Kattukuthira and Kochuvava became an instant hit, running more than thousand shows. Complimenting the freshness in the script, it is to be acknowledged that it is the actor who delineated Kochu Vava was more responsible for this success.

Rajan P Dev portrayed the character, with rustic simplicity, a wilderness that questioned the inner ethos and sensibility of the audience, a body language accentuated by gestures, mannerisms, stances, and dialogue delivery which shook the hitherto acting pattern in the theatre of Kerala. The blend of villainy, characterization, mannerism, sarcasm, crude, wild and raw nature of histrionics can be summarized as the characteristics of the acting school that Rajan P Dev developed. This new approach in acting he continued in his plays including to those which brought him the best actor awards in 1984 and 86.

Also he had a brief stint as director and producer for his company, Jubilee Theatres.

He was one of the last actors in mainstream theatre who could shoulder a play by his own. And he was one of the last actors that this theatre presented to the film industry.

Note. Written on the request by the  New Indian Express daily , and thanks to them for publishing this on 30th July 2009, Cochin edition.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fellowships for Gireesh Menon, Charu Narayanan, & Scholarship for Harikrishnan.S

Lokadharmi is very happy to share the news that three of its artists got recognitions in the form of fellowships and scholarships from the department of culture, Government of India. Gireesh Menon and Charu Narayanan are selected for a junior fellowship while Harikrishnan is selected for a senior scholarship for advance training in theatre. The scholarship and fellowships are for two years starting from 2009.

giree Gireesh Menon, the lighting designer, musician and a photographer par excellence is selected for fellowship for his project ‘The influence of indigenous theatre in modern Kerala theatre – A study using theatre photography as the medium of expression’.

Gireesh started his career as a lighting designer in 2002 with the lighting of the play Selfish Giant (directed by Chandradasan) and afterwards he has been doing it for the plays of Lokadharmi and Mazhavillu that includes Macbeth, Poranadi, Panjarasala, Pattabakki, Medea, Karnnabharam, Alibabayum 40 Kallanmarum, Ubu Maharaja (all directed by Chandradasan), Andha Yugam, Tom and Jerry (both directed by Sudheer Babu ), Bhagavadajjuka- Mathavilasam (Directed by Selvaraj VR), Madhura Kandam (directed by R.Raju). He has also worked and collaborated with International groups and projects like Kandor (curtain raiser, Malta,) Maya (Mandalam performing arts USA directed by Radha Karman,), Book of Stars (‘S’ theatre group Lithuania directed Zita Vilyutete, 2007), Salabhanjika (Lasya academy for performing arts Kolkota dir by Pallavi Krishnan, 2007). He has participated in many national and international theatre festivals that include Bharangam organised by NSD. He has widely traveled along India along with Lokadharmi and on his own and photographed People, Nature etc.

charu Charu Naryanan is getting her fellowship for the project ‘Northern and Southern Systems of Kalaripayattu and Their Influence in Different Performance Arts of Kerala’.

 Charu an actor and physical trainer has started her career in theatre in 2004 with Lokadharmi. Her acting career include the role of Panchami in the play Innalathe Mazha directed by Ullas Mavilai, based on the novel by N.Mohanan, in Theerayathra directed by Probir Guha. Since then she has been training Kalaripayattu and  Yoga for the actors of the Mazhavillu and Lokadharmi. She is an excellent Kalari performer and has traveled to Germany to perform and demonstrate Kalaripayattu. She also is a qualified Yoga teacher and also the State champion of Yoga.

2Harikrishan S is awarded with the scholarship to undergo advance training and specialize in ‘the acting system in the folk forms of Kerala and its adaptation into contemporary theatre’ under the guidance of Chandradasan, at Lokadharmi.

The career of Hari in theatre that started with campus theatre took a serious turn after his joining of Lokadharmi. He has participated in many workshops including that with Probir Guha. He had acted in the plays Paattabakki (by K Damodaran and directed by  Chandradasan), Theerayathra (by Probir Guha) etc.

This fellowships and scholarship will add the zeal and passion of these artists in their career and prospects in theatre.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Royal Aura of Kathakali to fill the Night


The valour and royal aura of Kathi vesham (knife) is to fill the night and the minds of Kathakali lovers on August 1st 2009. Showcasing of a specific character type like Kathi or Thadi is now a new drift in the repertoire of Kathakali, and the show titled Rajasam organised by Viewfinder Cultural Group at Tripunithura, falls in line of this new trend.

The Kathi Vesham in Kathakali is to represent villainous and evil male characters and is more challenging and more demanding from the performer. Performance of Kathi is highly structured one where the actor needs stamina to go through the gruelling performance.

Characters of high birth who have an evil streak, such as the Asura king Ravana, are also given a similar green make-up, slashed with red marks on the cheeks. These characters are arrogant and evil but have a high degree of valour. Characters representing the Rajo Guna (egoistic qualities) like Ravana, Duryodhana, Keechaka, Narakasura, Sisupala come in this category.

The unique event Rajasam gives a chance for the Kathakali enthusiast to see the wide range of characters and dramatic situations from Kathakali as well as chance to see the performance 10 best Kathi performers. !0 different segments from different plays are selected that contain important sequencing the charm and characteristic of Kathi are performed one after another. Each episode will be one hour in duration.

The maestro performer and exponent of Kathivesham Sri Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair is honoured in the brief inaugural function.

The performance starts with none other than Padmasree Kalamandalam Gopi portraying the love-torn Duryodhana from Utharaswayamvaram. Madavoor Vasudevan Nair follows with Bana from Banayudham who challenges Siva for a combat. Then is the mighty and heroic Ravana from Ravanolbhava essayed by Kalamandalam Balasubrahmanian. In the next sequence a totally different Ravana, who is immersed in the tenderness of love to his beloved Mandodari from Karthaveeryarjjuna Vijayam, is performed by Kalamandalam Sreekumar. Azhakiya Ravanan set to allure Seetha seated in Asokavanika from Thoranayudham performed by Kottakkal Chandrasekharan follows.

Keechaka trying to triumph Sirandhri with his might from Keechaka vadham enacted by Kalamandalam Pradeep, the enthusiastic Ghadolkacha at the sight of his father Bheema from Bakavadham enacted by RLV Pramod, the envious Duryodhana from Duryodhana Vadham performed by Parvathi U Menon (representing the recent female performers enacting the mighty male roles), Kottackal Nandakumaran Nair as the all powerful Ravana from Balivijayam, follows.

The night ends with the demon King Narakasura setting out angrily to fight Indra, from Narakasuravadham performed by Kottakkal Kesavan Kundalayar.

This night will turn out to be a unique event with more than 50 artists coming together in different roles and on the rich orchestra.

The event takes place at Kalikotta Palace, Tripunithura, Kerala and is organised with the cooperation of Thriputhura Kadhakali Kendram. The event starts at 6.00 pm on August 1st 2009.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Treat for theatre lovers


Plays with different themes in four languages made Dakshina Natakotsav memorable.

2009071750080201[1] PLAY TIME Scenes from `Mayabazaar', `Gokula Nirgamana', `Karnabharam'.

The people of Visakhapatnam were treated to a rich and varied fare of theatre art by the National School of Drama (NSD), Bangalore centre, which organized the Dakshina Natakotsav, from July 5 to10 at the Kalabharathi auditorium.

Six play productions in four southern languages, Mayabazar and Kabir Das in Telugu, Gokul Nirgamana in Kannada, Kuthirai Muttai in Tamil and Pravaachaka and Karnabharanam in Malayalam were staged.

The essential feature of drama, as distinct from cinema, is the presence of all the protagonists on-stage which strikes an immediate rapport between the actors and audience. This was evident from the packed audience and the rapt attention, interrupted only by the intermittent and thunderous applause, with which they witnessed all the six plays.

Variety of themes, dazzling and glittering costumes, rich and rhythmic literary constructions, amazing sets that left the audience astounded and flawless performances by the professional artistes made the show a memorable one. While the themes of Mayabazar, Gokul Nirgamana and Karnabharanam are well known and were taken from the epics, Kuthirai Muttai (Horse’s egg) had a hilarious social theme. The theme of Pravachaka was based on a Greek myth. Kabir Das was the story of an ardent devotee of Rama.

2009071750080202[1] ` Pravachaka' and`Kuthurai Muttai'.

The theatre extravaganza started with a bang when the Surabhi troupe, a household name in Andhra Pradesh, exhibited their talents, and mesmerising and magical sets with aplomb in Mayabazar. The divine sage Narada descending to the earth from the moving clouds, with shining stars and a crescent moon forming the background, singing the song pangs of separation, by Sasirekha and Abhimnayu, along with the special effects such as the fire spewing mace getting defused by the water showering arrow left the audience astounded.

Gokula Nirgamana, a tale of the platonic love that Gopala (Krishna) showered on Gopikas and Gopakas, had unbridled fun and frolic which was tastefully exhibited on-stage. The plays Kabir Das and Karnabharam revealed shades of contemporary problems that plague our society. The play Kabir Das starts with a conflict between Hindus and Muslims regarding the roots of the great saint. It also depicts his struggle from the mundane things and his yearning for the spiritual. Ultimately it conveys the message that all human being are one.

Similarly in Karnabharanam, the mental torture and agony that Karna had to undergo because of his birth and the humiliations that were heaped on him despite his unmatched military prowess, was brilliantly executed by the Lokadarshi troupe. It was directed by Chandradasan. Kuthurai Muttai, a hilarious Tamil play had striking similarities with a number of episodes of Parasmaanandayya Sishulu in Telugu. The only difference is, unlike in the Telugu version in which the Guru is a scholar, in Kuthuirai Muttai, the Guru is as foolish and stupid as the sishyas are.

The Malayalam play Pravachaka dealt with women empowerment. It was an all-women play, written and directed by Rajarajeswari and C.V. Sudhi respectively. It was staged by the only women theatre group in Kerala, Nereeksha. Mention must be made of the audience for witnessing the plays with decorum. As requested by the managers they had switched off their cell phones to ensure that there were no distractions. The organisers should also be congratulated for maintaining punctuality. Chatla Sriramulu, theatre director, Hyderabad, Prof. Devendra Raj Ankur, Chairman, Extension Programmes, NSD, New Delhi, C.S.N.Raju, founder president of Kalabharathi and Badamgeer Sai, deserve praise for organising such a memorable drama fare.

Source..The Hindu/ Friday Review/Hyderabad/  Friday July 17 2009

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fete ends with a grand show of Malayali play



Visakhapatnam July 10

WHEN adjectives become superfluous, it is the case to acknowledge excellence. So is the enactment of Malayali play Karnabharam at Kalabharati. artists of Lokadharmi, Kochi staged it as a grand finale to the five-day Dakshin Natakotsav.

The play opened with traditional naandi (introduction), which presented a brief intro about the original work in Sanskrit by Bhasa against the backdrop of romantic overtures of Sun god and Kunthi. Then unfolded a visual treat in all  its aesthetic richness.

Pride, prejudice, honour, humiliation, valour,  treachery, triumph and defeat – whole range of human emotions find abiding expression in mythology. Dealing with every shade of these emotions, the play in the time and space construct from the 16th day in the epic war at Kurukshetra, when, Karna, piloted by king Salya, unveiled a theatrical extravaganza.

As Salya berates Karna’s matchless military prowess at every turn, scene after scene unfold different tragic shades in his life. His tutelage under Parasurama, who teaches him archery on mistaken identity and curses it to  be powerless in war.

Indra taking away his natural armour and ear studs in disguise of a Brahmin to help Arjun, were presented with extraordinary precision in movements and coordination in troupe  formations besides expressional élan.

With a pervasive presence of poignancy in narration, the play essayed to bring out Karna’s emotional turmoil about his birth. faced with adulation and ridicule from different strata as dauntless warrior on one hand and man of low calling on the other, identity crisis haunts him all through.

In the portrayal of eponymous role, VR Selvaraj’s delineation of emotional landscape of Karna and that of Kunthi by Jyothi Madan stood out for its histrionic prowess. Rich stage props,traditional martial art group formations in depiction of war scenes besides a sprinkle of  Kathakali movements enhanced its dramatic appeal in ample measure.

While a team of 12 artists donned their roles with aplomb, Ajaya Kumar Tiruvankulam, Anup S Kalarikal, Sanosh Paluruti, and Adarsh Chandanavattam lend excellent technical support.

Note: This is the report reproduced from The New Indian  Express, / Saturday, July 11, 2009 / Visakhapatnam. The photograph is by Mahesh, Bangaluru.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Dakshina Natakotsav concludes on a high note

Special Correspondent Hindu daily 11 July 2009

Six best Indian dramas staged during the six-day festival

Photo: C.V.Subrahmanyam
Grand finale: A scene from ‘Karnabharam’, Malayalam drama presented by Lokadharmi team from Kochi at Kalabharati in Visakhapatnam on Friday. —

VISAKHAPATNAM: The six-day Dakshina Natakotsav, organized by the National School of Drama, was concluded with the brilliant execution of Malaylam drama ‘Karnabharam’ at the Kalabharathi auditorium on Friday. It was a fitting finale to the rich and varied drama fare that marked the staging of Six Best Indian Play-Productions. ‘Karnabharanam’ staged more than 300 in different parts of the country and directed by Chandradasan, depicts the mental torture and turbulence that Karna undergoes because of his birth. Was he son of Surya or Sutha? Was he the son of Kunthi or Radha?

This theme from the epic Mahabharatha reflects the contemporary problem of caste and social status, some times leading to heaping of insults and humiliations on persons because of birth. The story was well known and as the message was effectively conveyed through the ‘language of performance’ the languages ceased to be a barrier. The episodes of Karna’s encounters with Parusurama, and Indra, who comes in the disguise of a Brahmin to take away his divine Kavacha and Kundalams, were brilliantly executed.

There was thunderous applause from the audience. On the fifth day, the drama depicting story of saint Kabir Das was staged. The clash between Muslims and Hindus over the roots of the saint as also the troubles and tribulations that the saint face in his mundane life while he longs for the spiritual bliss were well portrayed.

Presiding over the concluding function, Chatla Sriramulu, theatre director, congratulated the audience for their discipline during staging of plays. M. Nagabhusana Sarma and Raoji, well known theatre personalities spoke. Badamgeer Sai proposed a vote of thanks.

Note ; This is the report in Hindu daily about the play karnnabharam performed in Visakhapatanam, The play got rave reviews from the English, and Telugu media. Hope i can post more of it

Friday, July 3, 2009

Karnnabharam at Visaka Ranga Mahotsav, Visakapatanam



KARNNABHARAM (The anguish of Karnna), The Malayalam adaptation of the Sanskrit Classic Performed by Lokadharmi Kochi Kerala is invited to Visaka Ranga Mahotsav – 2009 at Visakapatnam. The play is written by Mahakavi Bhasa, translated into Malayalam by Kavalam Narayana Panikkar, Music direction by Bijibal, Lighting by Gireesh Menon and the Design & Direction is done by aChandradasan.

  • This play has won the prestigious awards for Best play, best stage design & best costume design from Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards 2008.
  • Also nominated for best Actor, best Ensemble and best Choreography in the festival

Karnnabharam will be performed at Visaka Music and dance academy (Kalabharathi), at Pitapuram Visakapatnam at 6.30 pm on 10th July 2009.

Earlier Karnnabharam had been performed in Hyderabad and Vijayanagaram in Andhra Pradesh, and also in the major cities all over India that includes Kolkota (Bengal), Mysore, Bangaluru, Gulbarga, (Karnataka), Jagdalpur (Chatisgad), Cuttack (Orissa), Patna (Bihar), New Delhi, and Kurukshethra (Hariyana).

This play is performed widely in major theatre festivals all over India including Bharath Rang Mahotsav New Delhi 2006.

This is the 317th show of the play.

The artists traveling to perform the play are Sudheer Babu, VR Selvaraj, Sijin Sukumar, Madan Kolavil, Sebastian K Abraham, Jyothi Madan, Jolly Antony, Shyju T Hamsa, Vysakh Lal, Sumesh Chittooran, Santhosh Piravam, Ajaikumar Thiruvankulam, Sanosh Palluruthy, Aadarsh Madhav, Jebin Jesmes, Gireesh Menon, Anoop S Kalarikkal and Chandradasan.

The Visaka Ranga Maholsava is organised by NSD RRC Bangaluru and is from 5th July to the 10th of July. The plays scheduled are

Mayabazar (Telugu) – A. Manohar(late) - Surabhi, Hyderabad. (05th July)

maya bazar

The famous Surabhi tradition is on show where animals walks, a whole city flown away, arrows on fire, fountains and stalls sprout water, chariots passes across,­- the typical Surabhi blend of mythology and magic on stage in an untold Love Story from the Mahabharata. The real visual delight stage tricks, and music that blends together to create the 120 year tradition of continuous performing culture of Surabhi.

Gokula Nirgamana (Kannada) – BV Karanth (late) – Benaka ,Bangaluru (06th July)

This play is one of the masterpieces of the late BV Karanth and the group Nepathya is still performing it as attribute to the master director. This play is about Krishna, his flute, his dreams, destiny of human life on earth and more. When the young Krishna left Gokula, his childhood friends, and a lover, leaves his flute behind. Did he also leave a simple, beautiful life behind, on a journey that would only end in the annihilation of his people, and the end of his "avatara" on Earth? Is the flute left behind for the greater calling of protecting the very thing the flute and its music represent? The play depicts the cultural grandeur of Gokula in a very simple manner with subtle messages and magnificent performances-a musical extravaganza, rendered rich literary constructions full of rhythmical patterns and rhythmic movements and music.

gokula nirgamana

Kuthirai Muttai (Tamil) – Shanmugaraja- Nigazh Madurai (07th July)

M. Shanmugaraja’s play ‘Kuthirai Muttai’ (Horse egg) of Constantine Joseph Beschi, an Italian Jesuit Priest, who was popularly known as ‘Veeramamunivar’., who had learnt Tamil language with an intention to befriend and inspire Tamil-speaking public and in turn got inspired and fell in love with the language itself. The play captures the essence of humour depicting the sage and his whimsically humorous journey in pursuit of disciples.

Pravachaka (Malayalam) – CV Sudhi – Nireeksha Thiruvananthapuram – (08th July)

This play delves into the power structure in society and how women still find it difficult to be heard in a patriarchal society, by adapting the story of Cassandra from Greek mythology, scripted by E. Rajarajeswari. The rich subtexts and connotations raise this play above a costume play by the simple retelling of the Greek myth to contemporary social realities. Cassandra becomes a symbol for every woman’s plight and predicament and the play, an allegory. As war is forced on a peaceful land, the women have almost no say in the matter and can only watch the death and destruction that follow. The men and women seemed to be dwelling on different hemispheres and performance emphasizes the differences in the mindscapes of men and women.

Kabir Das (Telugu) - D. Someswara Rao - Rasa Ranjini, Hyderabad (09th July)

Rasaranjani the pioneering theatre group in hyderabad is performing Kabir Das, a play on the life of the legendary poet saint Kabir Das of the 15th century. It is believed at he was born in 1440, near Varanasi and he grew up in a Muslim weaver family, but some say he was really the son of a Brahmin widow, and was adopted by a Muslim childless couple. The play deals with the later part of Kabir Das' life, when he teaches both Hindu and Muslim faiths.

Karnnabharam (Malayalam) – Chandradasan – Lokadharmi, Kochi (10th July).

The festival concludes with Karnnabharam, the Malayalam adaptation of the Sanskrit classic by Bhasa, which attempts to interpret an epic for the modern world; to seek an understanding of contemporary India that is fast degenerating due to caste politics. This plat synthesizes elements of a classical Sanskrit play into the format of a Malayalam folk theatre system.


Karnnabharam for HPCL officers club

the 319th show of Karnnabharam will be done at HPCL officers club at Waltair, Visakhapatnam on the evening of 11th of June 2009. This is a special show by invitation and exclusively for the officers of HPCL Visakhapatanam. 
there is no invitation, this play only for Officers

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