In breathtaking harmony swayed Krishna and Radha in their iridescent costumes. Showing his mystique and charisma, Krishna emancipates from his larger-than-life image to be an endearing lover. Kalamandalam Aravind in his perfect rendition of Krishna and Sreelakshmi Raju as Radha conquered the stage with their winning reprisals. Unlike other Kathakali performances, Aravind has brought in elements of ‘Kerala Nadanam’ in Radha’s portrayal.
Even though Radhamadhavam (the story of Radha and Krishna) didn’t have an anticipated happy ending, for Indians it is the quintessential love story. Temples are built to freeze their indelible memory. And when Aravind set about to choreograph a piece for the first time he didn’t have to think twice about the story. With this experimental adaptation of Radhamadhavam, RadhaKrishna, Aravind is venturing into a new league of Kathakali artistes, who like to expand their creative zones.
“While I am clearly in love with the traditional Kathakali nuances, I just wanted to explore the scope of experimentation in the art form. Thus I stumbled upon this untried part of RadhaKrishna story, where I could develop the intricacies of human emotions and integrate other dance forms such as Kerala Nadanam in it,” says Aravind. He had performed it at various stages including the temple town Guruvayoor.
Aravind, who was recently in the news for winning the Natyashiromani title at the International Dance and Music Festival held at Cuttack, Orissa, has been indulging in the art of Kathakali from a very young age.“It was those Kathakali performances I got to see in television that had me hooked to the art form. At first I started learning tabla, then when I was in my eighth standard I asked my parents’ permission to join Kalamandalam and they complied. Since then I did all my learning from Kalamandalam,” says Aravind.This 24-year-old, who spent most of his time learning the nuances of Kathakali, dedicates his life to this art form. At his alma mater, Kalamandalam, which adheres to the lovers of indigenous artforms, he developed a style and name of his own. It was under the aegis of Kathakali exponents Kalamandalam Balasubrahmanian, Kalamanalam Ramdas and Kalamandalam Krishnakumar that Aravind took his first steps in Kathakali. With a scholarship he garnered from the government of India for young artistes he completed his graduation and post graduation from Kalamandalam. From Paccha, Kathi to Sthreevesham, (female roles) there’s nothing this youngster hasn’t tried his hands on.
At a time when talented artistes hesitate to become full-time Kathakali artistes, this youngster is content to be in this profession.
“The times have changed and Kathakali does receive its share of appreciation from art lovers around the world. I have travelled around immensely and showcased my art before the world. Wherever we have been people receive us with respect and love,” says Aravind.
To those who want to pursue Kathakali, Aravind says, “Art is something to be experienced and once you immerse in it you just cannot get out.” He says the number of artists will increase as Kalamandalam is planning to have branches across the state.
Aravind has a fine arts institute at Kozhikode where he teaches Kathakali to young children. The institute, Souparnika Kalakshethra, which was founded around a year ago had recently conducted the arangettam of two children.