Portrayal of a powerful role

Story Unravelled

Portrayal of a powerful role

Koodiyattam exponent Usha Nangiar recently presented an excerpt from her full-length production on Draupadi at Ranga Shankara.

The event was attended by people who were curious about the art form Koodiyattam, practitioners of the form and by dance lovers. 

Every traditional art form is undergoing a transition of sorts but Koodiyattam has stood the test of time, thanks to the efforts of people like Usha Nangiar and master percussionist Kalamandalam Hariharan, both exponents of Koodiyattam.

The show was an excerpt from the second act of the three-act narrative, known as Nangiar Koothu. Talking about how she got into the art form, Usha pointed out, “When I began, there were only two or three female characters but thanks to innovation, the roles have grown and today, there’s more scope for the art form than ever before. What we see is an effort to revive not only the art form but to widen the scope of female characters and add some more.” 

She stated, “Nangiar Koothu is always a solo performance which will feature a single performer on stage, accompanied by musicians and Sanskrit recitations in the background. The accompanists will employ storytelling techniques such as flashbacks to set the context for the story.”

Talking in detail about the performance itself, Usha explained that the performance is set before the Kurukshetra war when Krishna is making a final effort to broker a peace and prevent war.

 “It examines the thoughts running through Draupadi’s mind as she is going to meet Bhima to remind him of his terrible oath in the aftermath of the ‘Game of Dice’ that he will kill Dushassana and drink his blood and her vow that she will not tie up her hair till she has washed it in Dushassana’s blood,”she added. 

   Usha said that she is fond of Draupadi’s character. “I think Draupadi depicts the pain and suffering of every woman. She bears so much pain and I think the most challenging thing is to depict strong emotions,” she added.  

Usha and her husband Hariharan have spent a lot of time researching about Koodiyattam and contributing their bit to propagating it among the present generation. Usha said that it takes hours of practice to master a particular sequence and more than physical movement, Koodiyattam is all about communicating through expressions.

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