Kirathi comes to life
Kalamandalam Krishnendu has been a performer of Nangiarkoothu — solo performance part of the Sanskrit theatrical artform Koodiyattam — for over two decades.
Kalamandalam Krishnendu has been a performer of Nangiarkoothu — solo performance part of the Sanskrit theatrical artform Koodiyattam — for over two decades. For the Art For Hope festival, she performed a story that she wrote and choreographed. At an open stage in Delhi’s Bikaner House, she performed Sati Dehathyagom, the tale of Parvati who takes the form of Kirathi, a tribal woman.
The story is part of the Vyayoga (drama) Kiratharjuniyam, written by Kodungallur Kunjikkuttan Thampuran. “There is only one female character in it — Kirathi. A few years ago, Dileep Kumar from the Kovilakam created an attaprakaram for Kirathi’s solo performance. My performance was based on this,” Krishnendu says.
In the story, Parvathi and Lord Siva take the form of Kirathan and Kirathi and roam the forest for a day. Meanwhile, Kirathi reminisces about her past life as Sati and the tragic death she met with. “With some editing, I directed Sati Dehathyagam based on the attaprakaram with the help of my gurus,” she says.
Apart from directing and choreographing the act, Krishnendu also designed a new costume for the character — a black one that suits the beautiful dusky tribal woman. Traditionally, Nangiarkoothu costume is white. She retained the red and golden borders but added black to the headgear too. A green garland and waist accessories were added to the traditional look too.
This is not Krishnendu’s first experiment with Nangiarkoothu. The 37-year old artist joined Kalamandalam back in 1997 to learn Koodiyattam. “Sati Devathyagam is the third performance I am choreographing,” she says. As part of her research, she developed a part of Tapati-Samvaranam that got lost years ago.
She also developed an attaprakaram for a Nangiarkoothu performance. “It is based on a story from Mahabharata. In it, Gandhari visits the battlefield where she lost all her children. The entire one-hour act uses one shloka from the epic. It is the mother’s angst — the loss, anger, and grief — that forms the central theme of the piece titled Gandhari,” she says.