Documenting Dying Piece of Koodiyattam

Published: 04th January 2016 03:56 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th January 2016 03:56 AM   |  A+A-

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: One of the most fascinating, and lengthiest, performances linked to the ancient art form of Koodiyattam - the ‘Mantrankam’, spun out over 41 days - is all set to be documented.

The Centre for Koodiyattam, an agency under the Kendra Sangeet Natak Akademi here, is planning to shoot the unabridged ‘Mantrankam’ when it is staged twice this year. ‘Mantrankam’ has to be documented, said centre director K K Gopalakrishnan. “It is part of the efforts to revive ‘Mantrankam,’ and only two experts can perform it in full - 85-year old P K Narayanan Nambiar, son of Mani Madhava Chakyar, and 60-year old Kalamandalam Rama Chakyar,” he said.

A presentation, will be organised by the Centre and the Travancore Devaswom Board at a temple in Peruvanam, Thrissur during June-July. The second will be at Margi, the date is yet to be fixed. Rama Chakyar will perform at both venues. The unabridged performances in 2016 will be the first since 2008, when Kalamandalam Rama Chakyar performed it at the Peruvanam temple.

‘Mantrankam’ is essentially an ‘Anka’ from ‘Pratigya Yaugandharayana,’ a Sanskrit play by Bhasa. The basic framework of the story revolves around the captivity of king Udayanan, and the plotting that goes into rescuing him. A performance covering 41 days is no simple deal, and each day will see three to 12 hours of action. “No special preparations are made physically, you just need God’s grace and mustn’t fall ill,” said Kalamandalam Rama Chakyar.

“’Mantrankam’ is traditionally learnt by by watching and listening to the presentation. One youngster has begun to show interest in it,” he said. Koodiyattam, a mode of Sanskrit theatre considered to be two millennia old, has been recognised by UNESCO as a ‘Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.’  ’ The Centre for Koodiyattam organises regular appreciation programmes.

Classic Step

■ ‘Mantrankam’ to be documented for the posterity

■ Unabridged ‘Mantrankam,’ performed over 41 days, to be staged twice in 2016 after eight years

■ Abridged versions are more common these days

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