Back to theatrical roots

Young Nangyar Koothu artist Margi Visishta talks about her passion for the art form and the need for it to be accepted and performed more

Published: 05th May 2022 07:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th May 2022 07:09 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI: Artist Visishta V S aka Margi Visishta is on a mission to spread the word about the charm of declining traditional temple art forms like Nangyar Koothu. Hailing from Thiruvananthapuram, the artist received many accolades for her performance at the recently concluded Kerala University Youth Festival. 

For Visishta, who is also a B.Ed student at Government College of Teachers Education, Thycaud, participating in the Youth Festival was a great way to showcase the beauty of the Nangyar Koothu, a Sanskrit dance theatere art which is over 1,500 years old.

“Winning was not my concern. I wanted to utilize the platform to reach more audiences. I am a student of Margi Theatre near Valiyasala, an institution that has been fostering and reviving age-old temple art forms like Koodiyattam and Nangyar Koothu. These have become obsolete nowadays and need to be popularised,” says Visishta who came third in the Nangyar Koothu competition.

An elegant performance by Margi Sathi at a temple near her hometown enchanted Visishta who was then 11 years old. That is when she fell for Nagyar Kootu. With the support of her father, Anayara Vijayan, a prolific Thavil player, Visishta started learning Nangyar Koothu. “I represent the future. Nangyar Koothu and Koodiyattam are art forms that hold the essence of our culture. These come under the Sanskrit theatre art forms which were active in our country decades ago. I wish to preserve them and inspire more people to learn and understand them,” she says.

Visishta likes to perform action-oriented fables from the Sree Krishna Charitham Nangyar Koothu which comprises a total of 217 Sanskrit slokas. According to Visishta, these segments make the artist and audience engaged alike. “In Narasimha avataram, which describes the 10 avatars of Lord Vishnu, there is the act called Palazhi madhanam. Jarasandha vadham also has a few pieces which allow performing strong action mudras and expressions. I like to perform these as they give us space for movements rather than just emoting the Sanskrit sloka,” she says. 

Visishta also likes to explore her performance style. “More than converting it to a tool to depict socially relevant topics, I wish to follow the traditional fables and performances as there is a high need to conserve the real essence of Nangyar Koothu. I admire the works of Margi Usha Nangyar who portrayed the life of Draupadi, a strong woman from Mahabharata. I want to choreograph a piece like that too. Challenge is conveying it through the traditional mudras,” she adds.

She says social media can be a tool to explore the possibilities of such art forms and uplift them. She also believes rather than discriminating against artists based on their caste and religion, impetus should be given to their talent and grace of performance. “The art form and artists in Nangyar Koothu still struggle with financial stability and social acceptance. We need a day job to support ourselves. While youngsters like me take up the art form out of love for it. we are forced to manage a professional course on the side to secure a livelihood. This shouldn’t be the case, ideally,” Visishta concludes.



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