Urvasi-Pururavas Love Story Retold in Koodiyattam: First Time Ever!

The Legacy of Koodiyattam: Unveiling Sooraj Nambiar’s Unmatha Vikraman

Sooraj Nambiar, a senior disciple of maestro Ammanur Madhava Chakyar, recently captivated audiences with his groundbreaking performance of Unmatha Vikraman at Natanakairali in Irinjalakuda. This milestone event marked an exceptional moment in the history of Koodiyattam, the traditional Sanskrit theatre art form preserved by the Chakyar community in Kerala.

Breaking Tradition: A New Chapter in Koodiyattam

The Chakyar community, known for its dedication to Koodiyattam as ‘Kuladharma’ or family duty, has historically focused on the works of various poets, with less emphasis on those of the globally renowned Kalidasa. However, in 2003, Koodiyattam exponent G. Venu challenged this norm by presenting Kalidasa’s Abhignanasakutalam, followed by the first three Acts of Vikramorvasiyam. This unconventional approach paved the way for Sooraj Nambiar to showcase the fourth Act of Unmatha Vikraman, a feat unprecedented in Koodiyattam history.

A Theatrical Masterpiece: Unmatha Vikraman Unveiled

Sooraj’s two-hour solo performance was a tour de force, highlighting his skills as both a performer and a choreographer. The narrative centered around the poignant tale of the separation between Urvasi and King Pururavas, as the desolate king embarks on a quest through the forests to find his lost love. Amidst mistaking natural elements for supernatural beings, Pururavas’ journey unfolds with encounters with various creatures and culminates in a divine reunion with Urvasi.

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Sooraj’s innovative portrayal of interactions with forest animals showcased his creativity and expertise. Through the unique technique of ‘pakarnattam,’ typically used for multiple character portrayals, he brought to life the majestic peacock dance and the antics of birds, insects, and animals. His choreography, including the use of indigenous rhythms and expressive movements, added depth and emotion to the performance.

Celebrating Artistic Excellence: A Triumph in Koodiyattam

For the peacock’s gait, the use of the indigenous rhythm of marma added authenticity and charm to the scene, a credit to Mizhavu artistes Kalamandalam Rajeev and Kalamandalam Hariharan. The performance climaxed with the traditional ‘Mudiakkitha,’ featuring a stellar team including Kalanilayam Unnikrishnan on the edakka and Saritha Krishnakumar on the talam.

‘Unmatha Vikraman’ marked the inaugural production under Tripudi, a cultural initiative honoring Sooraj’s grandmother Brahmani Pattu artiste Savithri Amma. This performance not only showcased Sooraj’s artistic prowess but also underscored the continual evolution of Koodiyattam as a cherished tradition in Kerala.

Embracing Innovation in Tradition: Sooraj Nambiar’s Artistic Vision

Sooraj Nambiar’s rendition of Unmatha Vikraman transcends boundaries, infusing new life into the timeless art of Koodiyattam. His dedication to the craft, coupled with his boundless creativity, promises a future where tradition and innovation intertwine harmoniously on the stage of Natanakairali.

As the legacy of Koodiyattam evolves with each groundbreaking performance, Sooraj Nambiar’s Unmatha Vikraman stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of artistic exploration and excellence. Witness the magic unfold as history is made on the stage of cultural heritage and artistic innovation.

Photo credits: Special Arrangement