Natalie Savelyeva

Performance of Nangiyar Kuttu

Imagine a dark hall, where soft breeze is flowing from the fans, filled with silence. Big oil lamp is lighting the stage.

The first musician enters the stage, and takes his seat behind a drum (the drum consists of big clay pot, membrane is stretched over the neck).

His fingers start conversation with drum membrane, slowly and carefully at first, as if feeling the walls, then confidently, the rhythm start dancing, whirl round the lamp as if a flock of invisible elves which escaped out one cool evening.

The second musician enters and takes his seat near by the first one. The second drum starts the dialog with the first one.

Chowk, deep plies, basic posture used in Nangiyar koothu

Theresila (small curtain) is brought on the stage. The drums greet the artist hiding behind the Theresila.

Therasila disappears. Yellow dancing light of the lamp brings forward the face of Goddess-like creature. she sits in low Chowk (low plies), her years are closed. her posture is perfect and still. She herself is still not here...

Rumbling of the drums is becomes louder. She becomes alive and opens her eyes, huge, shining, reddish eyes. The star shines inside the each eye... Is this light of the lamp reflected in eye-pupils or her soul itself?

Slowly she looks round the hall. The drums whisper something into her ear, run after her eyes, exchange remarks with each other...

Netra abhinaya (expression through eyes) is ultima forte of Nangyar koothu

Her eyes are hypnotizing. It is impossible to break this eye contact. She starts narrating the story.

This time she is presenting the story of Putana, the demoness, who wants to poison small Krishna with her breast-milk.

We see every character, one by one. Miraculous transformation of the demoness into a beautiful lady, warm motherly love of Yashoda, sky-like clarity of Krishna's baby eyes when he wakes up and looks into Putana's face.

As Putana

We see inner conflict of Putana - when she looks on small baby Krishna, her motherly instincts are awaken. She feels love, tenderness.

At the same time, she is scared of Kamsa, terrified by his treating to punish her. This terror makes her to kill.

This fatal conflict of ambivalent feelings issues in her final liberation - Krishna releases Putana of her perishable earthly existence. He do not allow her to make mistake and kill him.

Expression useing eyes and mudras

Suddenly the story is over... and we find ourselves ar normal hall, with all those seats and fans round... strange transition back to reality!

My friend exclaims, "How to live on?" she is right. She implies that after encountering such miracle, it is impossible to come back to previous, casual life.

Vision of heavenly world of art opens new dimension of earthly existence. Perfection fills me with new fresh powers and makes perception unusually sharp, makes feelings fresh and bright!

I feel perfect completeness and integrity, as if filled with fresh waters up to neck. I feel perfect harmony with fleeting moment. I feel that all inner strings of my soul moving and playing, as good tuned orchestra.

Kapila venu performing Sitaparityagam Nangyar koothu

PS: this emotional story is about performance by Kapila Venu. She performed Nangiyar Kuttu, the art form originated from Kerala.