Kathakali Maestro Nelliyode Vasudevan Namboodiri Was A Consummate Performer, Academic And Guru. He Invested Negative Characters In Kathakali With A New Intensity And Depth

In the hierarchy of characters in Kathakali, adverse characters or these with gray shades, chuvanna thaadi and karutha thaadi, (characters with pink beard and black beard) are thought-about decrease to NayakaPrathinayakas (heroes and anti-heroes). Actors specialising in such roles will not be required to be completely disciplined both in angika (hand-gestures, physique and limb actions) or in satwikaabhinayas (emotive performing).

Octogenarian artiste Nelliyode Vasudevan Namboodiri, who handed away just lately, donned the roles of demonic-characters nearly all through his profession a lot towards his want. Nevertheless, he re-conceptualised his roles together with his theatrical astuteness and imaginative aptitude. The outcome was exceptional. Through his portrayals, characters similar to Dussasana, Thrigartha, Malyavaan, Baka, Kirmeera, Kali, Baali, Sugreeva, Nakrathundi and Simhika acquired a uncommon density and sensitivity in relation to and impartial of the textual content and the contexts.

Even as a baby, Nelliyode was immensely keen on Kathakali and his mother and father took him to P.S.V. Natyasangham, Kottakkal, for tutelage within the artwork kind beneath the virtuoso Vazhenkada Kunju Nair. Kunju Nair believed that custom needed to be reinvented with an unfailing sense of reasoning backed by knowledge. An inquisitive Nelliyode was drawn not solely to the rigorous coaching imparted by his Guru however to his inventive imaginative and prescient as effectively. When Kunju Nair left for Kerala Kalamandalam to develop into its Principal, he took together with him three of his disciples too: Nelliyode, Vijayan and Vasu Pisharodi. With the latter a part of his coaching at Kalamandalam, Nelliyode was lucky to be acquainted with the onstage performances of the titans within the subject.

More than the physique structure, the upangas (eyes, cheek, chin, nostril, lips) of Nelliyode have been greatest fitted to the illustration of demonic characters. But for the awe inspiring Vellinezhi Nanu Nair, there was a dearth of proficient actors within the erstwhile Cochin and south Malabar areas to painting demonic roles. Nelliyode stepped in to fill the void and shortly made his mark as a compelling performer.

Insightful interpretation

The practitioners of Kathakali and spectators at giant had a notion that crudeness and crass humour shaped the behavioural sample of the adverse characters. Nelliyode began re-envisioning such characters together with his intimate studying of the performs involved and the epics that cope with them. His portrayal of the character Kali, an evil spirit, within the play, Nalacharitham Day II, had, again and again, proved to be engrossing from the start until the tip. As Indra discloses the information of Damayanthi’s swayamvara with King Nala, Kali is overcome with anger, anguish, frustration and disgrace. Nelliyode’s depiction of the a number of feelings of Kali was at all times evocative. As Kali impatiently waits 12 years for the suitable alternative to get into the physique of Nala, he experiences the seasons — spring, fall, winter and summer season. This is an excerpt Nelliyode borrowed dexterously from the Koodiyattam play, Balivadham whereby Sugreeva is experiencing the identical as one confined to stay on a mountain to flee the wrath of his brother, Bali.

Free-style performing was the forte of Nelliyode. As Bali in Balivijayam and Balivadham, his performances have been invariably spectacular. Nelliyode had a penchant for Ashtakalasham (a distinctively choreographed dance phase within the 10-beat cycle). He did it as Bali in Balivijayam to show the triumph of Bali over the invincible Ravana. Nelliyode as King Jarasandha within the play Rajasooyam, suspecting the identification of the 2 Pandavas (Bhima and Arjuna) and Krishna disguised as Brahmins in the midst of their dialog, was at all times an interesting visible deal with for the viewers.

Nelliyode’s presentation of Baka within the play Bakavadham, unable to withstand his starvation as Bhima begins consuming big quantities of meals whereas sitting in a cart in entrance of him, was a scene the viewers loved unreservedly. Nelliyode’s Thrigartha coping with the conditions instantly previous the stealing of the cows owned by king Virata was once a hilarious act. The unabashed depiction of lust by the fierce Nakrathundi, the female-demon within the play Narakasuravadham, in the direction of the good-looking Jayantha, son of Lord Indra, was unforgettable within the actions and expressions of Nelliyode. His Simhika in Kirmeeravadham too used to obtain appreciation from connoisseurs.

In distinction, Nelliyode was famous for the illustration of two divergent characters, specifically Kuchela/Sudama in Kuchelavrutham and Ghanaka/carpenter in Bakavadham. His enactment of Kuchela’s journey to Dwaraka and the long-awaited assembly with Krishna had gained big admiration from the viewers. Nelliyode had deftly portrayed the mannerisms of Ghanaka, concurrently sustaining curiosity and amusement within the minds of the viewers.

Scholar and performer

In life, Nelliyode was calm and composed. Well conversant with Sanskrit and the Puranas, he learn rather a lot, wrote Kathakali performs and did translations of some well-known works in Sanskrit literature into Malayalam. Several years in the past, Nelliyode had enacted the position of Don Quixote when the famend literary piece was made right into a Kathakali play.

His identification as a traditional Kerala Brahmin, dedicated to his routine poojas and prayers, didn’t, nonetheless, dissuade him from taking over such an offbeat position or travelling overseas a number of occasions. Nelliyode even choreographed a Purappad (prelude) for the adverse characters, exceptional in Kathakali until then.

Many coveted awards and honours together with the one from Sangeet Natak Akademy got here his method one after the opposite. With the demise of Nelliyode Vasudevan Namboodiri, the type and substance he constructed up for the adverse roles in Kathakali involves an finish. But the tutorial rigour he created and nurtured for portrayal of characters proceed to be alive.


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