A LAYMAN’S REVIEW OF ‘UTSAVAM’ IKKF-14 PART 1
by Dileep Varma
Having been involved in the cited event, albeit on indirect note, I have the honor to say a few words on the recently concluded ‘Utsavam,’ International Kathakali and Koodiyaattam Festival – 2014, Part 1. At the outset, let me mention very candidly that I, comparatively an introvert, am writing this because I am basically proud to be associated with the team more than the event. In fact, I have realized through the past few years that a team where individuals have nothing to do, in other words, everything to do, is a spirit inculcated that drives forth all other activities. And, my heart goes with that spirit
Coming to the event, the broad program for 2014 was announced as early as the Closing Ceremony of IKKF-13. That was just an announcement, subject to changes any time due to various factors. The Team, whatever you may call it, worked towards one single goal of making it happen exactly how it was announced. And, my heart goes with that spirit.
Two methods have been evolved to fix events such as ‘Kathakali’, ‘Koodiyaattam’ etc. You can fix a play and then search for suitable actors/singers/percussionists to do it. Or, you desire to watch performance of a particular artist and finalize the plays accordingly. I have often been surprised by the fact that this particular team discusses with the apt individuals adequately in order to bring in a flavor to the events conducted such that priority is given to what should be included and then decide who could best fit in. And, my heart goes with that spirit.
Concentrating on IKKF-14 Part1, one would find it impossible to cite a single individual, may it be an artist, an organizer, a narrator, a compere or even a viewer, who stands apart from others. The cohesiveness of the team consisting of all these categories could be unheard of, especially in the field of performing arts. And, my heart goes with that spirit.
Regarding performances, I am bound to bow on the very attitude of Padmabhooshan Madavoor Vasudevan Nair. I am no one to evaluate his performance as “Ravana” in the poetically written and composed play called “Ravana Vijayam”. Nevertheless, the spirit this Octogenarian displayed on the stage has astounded me. And, my heart goes with that spirit.
I am not inclined to specify a single artist. The actors, singers, percussionists who appeared for Kathakali on stage are all worthy of mentioning. What surprised me was the way they tried to put in their very vest in the Utsavam. What took me off balance is the fact that each one of them endeavored to put in what they have, in all sincerity. And, my heart goes with that spirit
Notwithstanding the above, there is, in fact, another one that I would like to highlight. Kottakkal Kesavan Kundalayar’s willingness to take part in the demonstrations, which he could easily have avoided considering his seniority, is praiseworthy. Not only that he readily accepted the act, but he demonstrated what exactly the narrator, Raj Anand, asked. Needless to say, the playbacks supported adequately. And, my heart goes with that spirit.
The Kathakali Singers need a commendation. I have personally experienced the rapport carried by Sadanam Sivadasan and Kalanilayam Rajeevan. All have noticed how they have alternatively displayed the roles of “Ponnaani” and “Shimkiti” singers. Both of them, including the young boy Vishnu, had displayed how to address the art. And, my heart goes with that spirit.
I’ve heard varying opinions about the three “Thaayampakas” that were staged. Both the performing illustrious artists need no introduction. One cannot say if the performances rendered during the Utsavam were one of their bests. The absolute “HIGHLIGHT” of the entire Utsavam was the Thaayampaka demo involving both the artists. I am sure this would have been just one its kind ever. We could also gauge both Raman Kutty Marar and Unnikrishnan are as eloquent as they are in performance as in demonstrating Keralite Rhythmic Patterns through Thaayampaka. And, my heart goes with that spirit.
Apart from Kathakali and Thaayampaka, there were two performances of Kunchan Nambiar’s innovational Thullal. The Thullal gang was observed to be remaining a separate entity. However, Geethanandan and his team came up with two performances that gave an insight to Thullal for the first time here. The organizers’ intention to include an art that pronounces the very basis of our day-to-day language usage cannot be praised enough. And, my heart goes with that spirit.
There are some men who never appear on stage. But, without them, performances just cannot happen in art forms such as Kathakali. I do not know how to express my appreciation to “Koppu” and “Chutty” artists. They were so content with arranging the performances that they ensured each performer appeared exactly as per the timing prescribed by the “TEAM”. And, my heart goes with that spirit.
Performances do not promote art. If that was the case, the classical performing arts would not need any promotions at all, because the performance would speak for itself. We need someone to correlate the performance with the sense that the performance conveys. Shri Raj Anand tried to accommodate, through demonstrations, what would be presented and what are its effects of conveying the literature, the mood etc. No matter how many co-related the demonstrations with the actual performance, he unabatedly spoke what he had to. And, my heart goes with that spirit.
Aniyan Mangalasseri is not a stranger. As far as I know, he has been involved from the very beginning of these events. The coolness, the most suitable attitude to be displayed, the way he interacts with artists, the viewers and the organizers is something to learn from. One could never see him with a mood other than cheerfulness. And, my heart goes with that spirit.
After all, the spirit of what you have leads you. This team of art lovers, whatever its name is, definitely has the spirit. As an individual I pledge my solidarity to the team, which the team does not need. Also, I have observed that I have to learn something or the other from every member of this wonderful family. Alas! I am unable to name a single individual separately. And, my heart goes with that spirit.
Last, but never the least, the enthusiasm expressed by the viewers of the events would touch anyone. Almost all of them came to watch with all seriousness. I wonder whether we have been able to provide with what they would need to come closer to these art-forms. Even in my wildest of imaginations, I did not think there are so many in this part of the world interested in such art forms. Most of all, therefore, my heart goes with that spirit.
Nonetheless, the next years’ events for Part1 celebrations have been announced. Let’s gear up for that. Cheers – the organizers, the artists, the connoisseurs and those who simply love this particular event!!!
Ikkf part 1 was one of the best events organized by the team. As Mr. Dileep Varma mentioned , the success of the event lies with the selflessness of the team players, artists and the audience. I have not seen a single manager there! Talent some times does not reach to audience unless the efforts to convey the aesthetic sense of Kathakali portrayed from the heart by performer . In this event the endless claps at end of each performances were the confirmation of the connecting point between the artist and connoisseur . The lecture – demonstrations conducted on each day given lot of highlights of each days performances to viewers to understand the story behind the stories !! That part was the unique feature of Ikkf so far, as even by far no organizations at sight.
From a viewer’s point , the three days feast of classical art was ever chanting as expected from the Ikkf team. Conducting events since 2007 with the help of art lovers, the Indian consulate in Dubai and the tremendous support from the Dubai Government officials might be the strength behind the team, in addition to their passion to present the classical art with a “class ” touch of its own . Unbeatable array of artists, the plays that we wish never to end , the music that soothes the mind, the colorful and rich costumes , the conveyance of every single emotion from the body of the actor to the soul of the viewer .. Ikkf becomes an event that exceeded the high expectations of every art lover , forced to heighten the bars again !! Kudos to the team and waiting to see the Koodiyaatam festival (part 2) in April …. Still feeling the rhythmic beats of drums to the ear , same as felt in childhood while walking back to home in the early morning after viewing night long kathakali performances from endless Kerala temple stages !!!!!
The highlight of the program , in my view was the real time synopsis of each performance by Dileep Kumar. Without that feeding, I doubt a layman like me will understand the full stories, the body gestures of the artistes and the change of beat . I will not dare to comment something about the great performance of the artistes