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God's Own Convention - Day 2

Apologies for the prolonged slumber. So where was I? Yes...

We awoke at 4.45AM. Yes, I woke up at do Yoga! The lengthy yoga session was in a way refreshing. So was the sight of MadSense dozing off during Shavaasana. Breakfast was followed by a talk on Kerala's folk culture by one Kavalam Narayana, which was both informative and I must admit, pretty monotonous. The talk on folk culture was fittingly followed up by a Kerala folk dance called Ottanthullal, which was rather enjoyable and to me seemed like a poor man's Kathakali.

There was also a rather queer acrobatic Tamil folk dance form called Karagattam at the end of which I was both in awe and in splits. Karagattam was followed by the seemingly never-ending Prahlad Natak which I must admit I didn't particularly enjoy very much.

What I liked a lot in the convention, and what made this a convention and not a concert series, were the intensives. These intensives were 5-day 'learning' which were conducted for us by the masters and the artistes themselves. I thought I'd dabble in art and signed up for Kalamkari under the very amicable and venerable Gurappa Chetty alongwith Tennis, Thames, Harshal, 'Thumb'elina aka Poonam, Shaz, Tiger Baby and Aane. MadSense and BadSense (who arrived later that day) chose the tutelage of the Great Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan; Mahi-maa chose Pattachitra, Sri Sri and Shiney chose Yoga and God's Own Suhas chose Kudiyattam. Our first 'class', which was was about the 'fab' process of the cloth and the kalam, was rather insightful. Its no easy thing waiting for a cloth to wash it in myriad liquids in different concentrations; it takes nearly 17 steps to transform the ordinary cloth to a bright canvas of art.

After the intensive session, we set off towards the Ananthapadmanabha Temple in the heart of the old city.

After the Darshana of the the Diety, Shiney and I set off amidst rains to the concert venue in a hurry as we didn't want to miss a lot of the next concert while the rest of them chose to hang around. And whilst we were at the temple, the rest of the coterie joined in celebrating the birthday of God's Own Suhas.

Well so far so good, but the performances so far weren't that great...until these two concerts.

Carnatic Vocal by T N Sheshagopalan

I skipped dinner to get to the venue in time...but I didn't regret it. The first Carnatic concert of the convention, that too by T N Sheshagoplan obviously had me upbeat. Though Shiney and I reached a bit late, we were treated with some of the best kritis in the melodic voice of the vidwan. The next concert however, was easily on of the most scintillating performances I had seen and will ever see.

Kutiyattam by Kapila Venu

Prior to the convention, I had no idea about the existence of Kutiyattam. A bit about Kutiyattam for the uninitiated- It is the world's oldest theatre form (and I'm not kidding!). It is a Sanskrit theatre form that uses mime and percussion far more than the spoken word to communicate. Ergo that makes it al l the more demanding from the artiste.The tyro that I was, I was more than glad I had birthday boy Suhas sitting next to me for this perfromance. I was glad he chose Kutiyattam for his intensive- he elucidated each subtlety and each expression till I could get the hang of it. The rather young artiste Kapila Venu has been trained in the moribund theatre form by one of Kutiyattam's greatest exponents Sri Ammanur Madhava Chakyar who the convention was dedicated to. Her performance, her gait, her expressions, her mastery were all simply, MIND-BLOWING!!!

End of Day 2. Epiphany of the day - Kapila Venu is THE best actress I've ever seen.


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