Young artistes are ignorant on intricacies of Yakshagana art, says expert

Yakshagana— the popular folk art form of coastal Karnataka has weathered many a storm in its long existence but it is struggling to sustain the charismatic beauty of the  art form, opined experts.

The day-long ‘Bannada Vesha Paathra darigala’ conference was organised by Yakshagana Kalaranga in memory of veteran and legendary Yakshagana artiste ‘Bannada Malinga’, who was an expert in ‘Bannada Vesha’. The artistes who gathered at the conference belonged to the ‘Tenkuthittu’ form of Yakshagana. ‘Bannada Vesha’ is the character playing roles of demons. The conference was followed by a live demonstration of  ‘Mukhavarnike’ (face of Yakshagana character) of the ‘Bannada Vesha’ artistes.

Senior artiste Kolyuru Ramachandra Rao, aged 82 from Kolyuru told Deccan Herald that he began his Yakshagana career at the age of 13. With more than  69 years of experience, he stands as a witness for the gradual transformation in various facets of art.

“The art at present has incorporated various changes to suit the present generation. This is not a healthy sign. The traditional touch in the art is slowly diminishing. The folk art is massively influenced by films and plays. The costume and dressing style are also loosing its originality.  The role performance and make up wherein the actors wear resplendent costumes, head gears, and painted faces was an elaborated process in the past. Sadly, the scenario is changing to suit the time constraints and modern needs,” he said.

The veteran artiste lamented that the young artistes of the present day rarely follow the methods and rules practiced by seniors. The sanctity of the art, which enacts the classical melodies with references to Sanskrit literature, needs to be conserved.

Another senior artiste Kuriya Ganapathy Shastri who is associated with the art since 66 years said there should be a limit for the change. The changes introduced in the art form should not over rule the basics of the art. The only satisfactory fact is that the ancient traditional touch remains unaffected to certain extent in ‘Bannada Vesha’  in Tenkuthittu form of Yakshagana.  Yakshagana is hardly played for entire night as against the past. Currently  it is staged and designed for three hours. The patience among the artistes is missing, he added.

Artiste Subraya Holla who has 31 years of experience said the young artistes are ignorant over the intricacies involved in the art. They have no knowledge on face painting that differentiates oil and dry painting.There is no threat to the art form. Amateurs especially college students are brilliant that professional artistes.

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