A lotus blooms and its petals appear to be tremulously awaiting the breeze as Arjuna pays obeisance to Lord Krishna by evaluating his eyes to these of the lotus flower. Bindu Madhavan’s fingers effortlessly remodeled Guru Ettumanoor Kannan’s murmured verses of ‘Naadha Bhavacharanam’ in Devagandhari ragam into the visible language of Kathakali to relate an episode from the favored story of Santhanagopalam.
Following her keenly and emulating her gestures have been a motley group of Kathakali aficionados at the same time as their fingers fashioned the mudras that transposed the aural into visible semantics. “This is a workshop I have been holding since 2007 when I was working on a project with the International Centre of Kerala Studies under the University of Kerala. I have always felt that Kerala’s own classical theatre could attract more viewers and fans if they could understand completely what was happening on the stage. Some are able to follow the music and grasp the scenes enacted by the artistes but once the artistes begin to use their imagination and improvise, the viewer is at sea unless the spectator knows the language of the mudras,” explains Kannan.
It was an AHA second for the consummate Kathakali performer. He realised that one of many primary elements of Kathakali is hand gestures and its vocabulary.
“It is the backbone of Kathakali. So the music, the lyrics and the rasas such as sringara (romance), hasya (humour) and so on are all expressed through the mudras. Learning to read and understand the hand gestures is the focal point of Kathakali and akin to getting a key to open the door and enter the world of the classical art form. It is because of ignorance of the mudras that many don’t enjoy Kathakali performances,” he provides.
So, with the blessings of the mandarins within the College, Kannan started a certificates course on classical type appreciation. He recollects that eight to 9 programs have been carried out and other people from totally different walks of life have been guided into the action-filled performs of Kathakali. When that petered to a cease, Kannan continued the workshops at his dwelling or in venues like that of Trivandrum Samskarika Kendram, which have been all organised by associates.
“Word of mouth brought in participants who wanted to learn the nuances of Kathakali. In those days, we used to give announcements in the paper. Now, Whatsapp groups inform would-be participants. All the workshops conclude with a Cholliyattam on the padam they had learnt,” says Kannan.
He elaborates that even many Kathakali artistes are amused or disinterested after they find out about his workshops. “They don’t see the point in viewers of Kathakali learning the mudras. But my point is that once they learn the language of the mudras, many are mesmerised by the artistry of a performer. It is like learning the letters of the alphabet of a language,” he provides.
Kannan factors out that in older days, maybe there was no want for such formal periods as a result of Kathakali recitals have been a lot part of life that many would watch it in temples or throughout occasion organised by rich households and patrons.
- Bindu Madhavan, an govt engineer with the Kerala State Electrical energy Board, and her husband, Madhavan Sukumaran, working in Technopark, are ardent viewers of Kathakali. So is her brother Brajesh C Kaimal, an worker at Technopark. “Three of us travel to watch plays by consummate artistes. It doesn’t matter if we have to use up our holidays and weekends for this,” says Bindu.
- Her brother provides that since Kathakali recitals are few and much in between, as quickly as they hear a few main play, they plan to observe it. All three of them are individuals of the workshop. In the meantime, Sibi Surendran, a resident of Chathanoor, travels about 50 km to attend the workshop. “Unlike many in this group, I happened to watch a play at a temple about a year ago. Mesmerised by the action and the music, I began watching more recitals. However, for someone like me, it was not easy to follow everything on stage. So, when I got to know of this, I grabbed the opportunity to get a hang of the action on stage,” he explains.
- Equally, Nalini started watching Kathakali a few yr in the past. Having fun with the tales, the music and the percussion, she began attending most of the performs staged within the metropolis. For her, too, the workshop got here as a godsend to higher her understanding of the nuances of Kerala’s classical theatre.
Frequent watching of the performs and the assistance of elders and connoisseurs would hone the aesthetics of kids. “Moreover, in those days people had enough time to watch night-long recitals, discuss the performances and so on. Now, when many of us have nine-to-five jobs, watching all night plays and engaging in debates on the finer points of a recital may not happen. Hence, workshops attempt to do that through formal appreciation courses,” he says.
Though the workshop needed to be discontinued when he left to take up an project at Kerala Kalamandalam, Kannan resumed the workshop after his return to town. Identified informally because the Kathakali Aswadana Kalari, as quickly as Kannan introduced his workshop on the Whatsapp group, ten folks joined. Just one dropped out.
He factors out that after the individuals study all of the mudras on this padam, they might perceive about 50 mudras.
“That is the foundation. ‘Mudrapaedia’, an online portal on mudras, has documented 1,000 mudras; 947 main mudras and the rest are lesser ones. Fifty is nothing. But once, they understand the grammar of the mudras, they will able to build on it. In the 10 days, they were be familiarised with the grammar and they will get insights into the performance of a play,” explains Kannan.