Nepathya Rahul Chakyar Showed How A Dancer Can Create A Huge Impact Even When Performing In A Small Space
One of the putting options of Kerala’s classical theatre kinds is the idea of using house. Even whereas presenting larger-than-life mythological narratives, the scale of the stage utilized in Koodiyattam or Kathakali is ideally round 150 sq. ft. The concept of physique kinetics in these artwork kinds emphasises using the eyes, face and all the physique in minimal house with the least actions to create the utmost affect. The act of lifting a mountain or crossing an ocean, for instance, is finished extra with limbs and muscle mass and never by way of spatial motion.
Koodiyattam goes even additional in sure performs, and virtually shrinks the stage to a picket stool or peetam that’s about 2 ft in diameter. One such occasion is within the play Asokavanikankam, the place Ravana, seeing Sita for the primary time from his airborne chariot, is overcome with marvel and keenness.
Two descriptive segments
Acting out the sloka ‘Indranimaham’ whereas standing on the peetam additionally entails two well-liked descriptive segments of Koodiyattam — ‘Kailasoddharanam’ and ‘Parvathiviraham’. While the previous requires the actor to have a supple physique to explain how Ravana tossed up Mount Kailas when his flying chariot was blocked by the mountain, the latter calls for an expressive face to relate the Siva and Parvati dialogue.
Watching this solo act by Nepathya Rahul Chakyar at Nepathya Moozhikkulam in a four-hour ‘Nirvahanam’ or Retrospective phase is a lesson on the way to use the physique in Koodiyattam. Rahul was on the peetam for almost two and a half hours, starting from Ravana describing Sita’s magnificence to recalling his go to to the jail the place he had imprisoned the celestial beauties. To narrate how he noticed Parvati doleful and indignant, Ravana first describes the story of how he lifted and threw Mount Kailas. Only within the final phase of ‘Parvathiviraham,’ did the dancer get to sit down down.
Creating an imaginary mountain for the viewers isn’t any simple job. As he marvels on the majestic Kailas, Rahul stands tall on the stool, bends sideways, leans backwards, stands on tiptoe, and stoops low to hint the contours of the mountain. Then he goes on to explain its numerous options similar to caves and sheer rock faces. Supported by the colourful mizhavu and idakka drums, Rahul makes the viewers expertise water dropping from the mountain’s crevices and gathering power to kind a river. Rahul makes use of the peetam as if it was an extension of his limbs and eventually he uproots the mountain and tosses it up excessive into the sky.
How does this act differ from his different Koodiyattam roles? Rahul says there may be a lot much less freedom when standing on the stool and one has to scale down actions. The attaprakaram or the stage handbook makes no allowance for modifications in costume or actions within the descriptive passages to offset the house constraints. The problem, says Rahul, is to create the identical affect throughout the restricted house.
Performing whereas standing on a stool calls for extra focus and stamina, since one has to at all times concentrate on the foot place whereas on the identical time sustaining the best expressions. The inputs wanted, due to this fact, to create the identical viewer expertise are extra when performing in an area that may be a fraction of the traditional stage. Rahul has carried out this function twice earlier than however in a pacha costume. This is the primary time he’s doing it in Ravana’s kathi make-up, which is tougher due to the larger headgear.
“Rigorous practice is essential to avoid even a small misstep,” says Rahul. Initial classes, when his guru taught him this sequence, took roughly one month. Nowadays, he practises for a few week earlier than such a efficiency.
Rahul believes that the fantastic thing about Koodiyattam lies in creating a big effect through the use of one’s eyes and physique to mission most vitality.
The writer, a retired journalist, writes on Kerala’s performing arts.