Kathakali Hamsam ( Swan ) kerala Photo Gallery

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Kathakali Hamsam ( Swan )

The end of the 17th century and the early quarter of the 18th century saw the enrichment of Kathakali literature by the production of Unnayi Warrier's Nalacharitam in four parts, the gratest attakkatha at all time. Unnayi Warrier was a poet of exceptional skill.

His sense of drama, command over language, knowledge of dance and music and insight into human psychology enabled him to present the story of Nala and Damayanti in a compact form, observing auchitya to the maximum extent possible. He also sticks to the concept of a dominant rasa supported by other dependent rasas. The dramatic unravelling of the ups and downs in the career of a noble king and his beloved consort is magnificently achieved by Warrier. Variety in situation and characterization are provided by the introduction of characters like Kali, Pushkara, Rituparna, Karkotaka, Kattala and even the Hamsam (Swan). Even minor characters are presented as fulfledged human beings. Nalacharitham is the highwatermark of Kathakali literature mainly because of its profound human interest. The central plot is concerned with the fall of a noble and good man brought about by his accidental involvement in a game of dice and by the intervention of evil forces like Kali. He is rescued in the end, by his steadfastness and adherence to moral values. The heroine is unconsciously responsible for the jealousy of Kali, but at the end it is her goodness and her intelligence that come to the king's aid. King Nala and his queen, Damayanti, have become immortal characters, illustrating, through their suffereings the vicissitudes of human fortunes Among the many special features of Nalacharitam, is the happy blending of poetry, abhinaya (acting) and nritya (dance). One of the most felicitous passages from this point of view is the scene between Damayanti and the Swan-messanger. The cleverness of the Swan in drawing Damayanti away from her maids is superb dramatic material. He follows it up with an equally clever way of revealing his identity to her. Once her curiosity is aroused, it is easy for the Swan to find out how much she is interested in Nala. With his encouragement, unsuspected by her, she tells him about her love for Nala. On getting confirmation of it, the Swan proceeds to Kundinam to take the good news to King Nala. In the third day's play we have a touching soliloquy by Nala, now separated from his wife, sleepless in his grief, in the saddest moment of his life:
In the lonely vast forest, alas,
O moon-faced one, what do you do, waking up in pain?
Who (is there) but the wolf for help? or,
Have you reached home, timid one?
When can I see your moon-bright face?
When embrace you body coveted by the gods?
Beloved, what did you get there when you were hungry,
As I lay in stupor born of illusion?
O god! my blessed one, I cannot bear to think of you
O parrot-tongued one, and the wild forest full of howling jackals.

Kathakali Hamsam ( Swan )
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