Dancing to the tales of ‘Parasurama’
Sasidharan Nair’s choreography uses Kalaripayattu and Kathakali to tell stories from mythology
It is challenging to enact mythological characters. But it is even more so when there is very little written about these characters. But that is exactly what attracted me to Parasurama—the sixth avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu,” says Sasidharan Nair, a Kathakali dancer. Nair is also the choreographer and director of Parasurama, a dance drama that will be performed at Delhi’s Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts on 17 August.
Mythology has it that Parasurama, also known as the axe-wielding Ram, arrived on earth at a time when the Kshatriyas had begun to misuse their power. While the character of Parasurama will be familiar to anyone who follows mythology, what surprised Nair was the lack of stories about him. After researching several books, he managed to chalk out four episodes from Parasurama’s life for the stage.
“Legend has it that Parasurama arrived in the age of Kshatriyas. This warrior class, with weapons and power, had begun to abuse their power. How Parasurama corrects the cosmic equilibrium by destroying these evil warriors is our first story,” explains Nair.
The dance drama will look at Parasurama’s life as a flashback—showing an ageing and wiser Parasurama.
Nair, who was a trainer with the Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra in Delhi till 1990 and is now an independent choreographer, will be playing two versions of Parasurama himself, accompanied by 25 students in various other roles, including that of a young Parasurama and an old one in self-exile.
The performances will not re-enact the legend of how Parasurama created the state of Kerala, though this story will be reflected in the show.
Blessed by the gods, Parasurama is believed to have thrown away his axe in Kanyakumari, with Kerala being created where his axe touched land. It came to be called Parasurama Kshetram, or the land of Parasurama, in the Puranas.
Paying tribute to this story, the performances will be done in styles intrinsic to Kerala—the classical dance form of Kathakali and the martial arts form kalaripayattu. But Nair, who has also trained in Mayurbhanj Chhau, has used the dance form from Odisha too in the choreography.
Parasurama—The Axe-wielding Rama will be performed on 17 August, 7pm, at Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts, 4, Safdar Hashmi Marg, Mandi House (23714307). Seating on first-come, first-served basis.