Making of ‘Drona Charitam’ Kathakali Play

The story of Dronacharya from the epic Mahabharatha is getting ready to play as Kathakali. Kathakali artist Kottakkal Pradeep of PSV Natya Sangham is the man behind this project. His Asans (Master Trainers) and other scholars from Kathakali along with PSV Natya Sangam, the Kathakali troupe owned and managed by Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala, are supporting him for this new creation.The introductory performance of the story in Kathakali is on 06 Oct 2014, at Kottakkal.

Pradeep said that he was inspired by many authors and stories in Kathakali and finally decided to select the story of Dronacharya. Dronacharya was the master trainer of Kouravas and Pandavas.  The Kathakali play is narrating two important incidents from the long story of Dronacharya which is still relevant.

Drona & Drupadan

Drona was not gestated in a womb, but outside the human body in a droṇa, a pot. Bharadwajamuni was his farther. Drupadan, the King of Panchala was his childhood friend. They together learned and practiced Dhanurvidya, the science of archery and war. Later Parasurama, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, gifted his weapons to young Drona. With the transfer of weapons and the knowledge Drona became exceptionally powerful. Droṇacharya married Kṛipi, the sister of Kṛipacharya of Hastinapura. Once, poor Drona approached his old friend King Drupadan for help. But King Drupadan didn’t help him and even refused to recognise the friendship by saying friendship is possible only between persons of equal status.

Bhishmar, the grandfather of Pandavas and Kauravas, incidentally came to know about Dronacharyan and appointed him for giving martial training to Pandavas and Kauravas. Arjunan, one of the brothers of Pandavas became Dronacharyan’s favourite student, because of his talent and attitude for hard work. On completion of the training, Dronacharyan asked his students to defeat King Drupadan and bring the King in front of him. With the help of Arjunan, they defeated the King and conquered his entire Kingdom. Dronacharyan gave back half of the kingdom to Drupadan so as both of them have equal status and forgave Drupadan’s misdeeds.   

Thumb of Ekalavyan

Another act of Dronacharyan , that drew criticism about his character is connected with the story of Ekalavyan. During the time of the training of Kauravas and Pandavas, another boy Ekalavyan, son of a Nishada (tribe) chief approached Dronacharyan to learn Dhanurvidya. But Dronacharyan refused to give him training because of various reasons and told him that he cannot teach a tribal boy along with others.  The enthusiastic boy, Ekalavyan, secretly learned archery and other fighting techniques imagining Dhronacharyan as his Guru. Ekalavya became a powerful warrior.  Arjunan and Dhronacharya came to know about this. Dronacharya understood that Ekalavyan may over power his favourite disciple Arjunan. He went to Ekalayan’s place where he was received with honour. Because Ekalavyan learned everything by assuming Dronacharya as his Guru, Dronachaya demanded his Dakshina (fee to the Guru). Ekalavyan promised anything for his Guru.  Dronacharya asked for the right thumb of Ekalavyan. Even though Ekalavyan knew that without his right thumb whatever he learned is useless, without any hesitation he cut off his thumb and presented to his Guru.

Acting Rehearsal:

The acting rehearsal of 'Dronacharitham' Kathakali ar PSV Natyasangam, Kottakkal.

Kathakali Play of Dhrona Charitham

Kottakkal Pradeep, who is with the institution (PSV Natyasangham) for the last 17 years, started writing Kadakalippadam (the songs narrating the story in Kathakali) about three years before. He consulted with many scholars like Jhayath Balan, Editor at the Publication Division of Arya Vaidya Sala, Kottakkal Chandrasekaran, Artist and Ex- Principal of PVS Natya Sangam, Kottakkal Kesavan Kundlayar, the Artist and Principal of PSV Natya Sangam, other senior artists Kottakkal Narayanan, Kottakkal Madhu and Vengeri Nayanan. The team also created acting manual, music, casting etc. for the play.  The acting rehearsal is going on since few days. The play describes the partiality of a teacher, its consequent result to other students, value of friendship, jealousy, revenge, power politics, war etc. based on the story; all these are subjects of live discussion in the present world. The Kathakali play in a duration of about 5 - 6 hours is concluding with the message that education is the valuable wealth than anyone, in the world. Six characters appearing in this Kathakali are Dhronacharyan, King Drupadan, Arjunan, Ekalavyan, Kripi and Bheeshmar. 

According to the words of Kottakkal Chandrasekharan “The efforts put by Pradeep in selecting the story and completing the Attakkatha by discussing it with other scholars is really appreciable. The scenes like the revenge of Dronan and scarifies of Ekalavyan are of tremendous acting opportunity as well as contemporary importance. We are all waiting for the first public performance and the feedback after it.” 


Actors: Kottakkal Chandrasekharan (Dronacharya), Kottakkal Kesavan Kundlayar (Arjunan),Kottakkal Sudheer (Drupadan), Kottakkal Devadas (Ekalavyan), Kottakkal RajMohan (Kripi) and Kottakkal Sunil (Bheeshmar); 
Singers: Kottakkal Narayanan, Kottakkal Madhu, Vengeri Nayanan, Kottakkal Santhosh, and Kottakkal Vineesk; 
Chenda Percussionists: Kottakkal Prasad, Kottakkal Vijayaraghavan and Kottakkal Maneesh; Madhalam Percussionists : Kottakkal Radhakrishnan, Kottakkal, Ravi and Kottakkal Subhash; 
Make up: Kottakkal Satheesh, Kottakkal Anil and Kottakkal Vishnu

Date Time and Venue

Date: 06 Oct 2014, Time: 06.00pm
Venue: At Viswambhara temple premise, Arya Vaidya Sala, Kottakkal, 
Malappuram district, Kerala, India

Making of ‘Drona Charitam’ Kathakali Play Making of ‘Drona Charitam’ Kathakali Play Reviewed by Welcome Kerala on 07:39:00 Rating: 5

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