Seeing Abhimanyu's heroics as a Yakshagana is a poor second, but there's no first.
The well-known touring troupe of Kannada artists, Shri Mahaganapathi Yakshagana Mandali of Nidle-Dharmasthala, is organising a Yakshagana Saptaha (week), from 21st to 27th September at the Sundarayya Vignana Kendram and other places of the twin cities. As part of the Saptaha, Veera Abhimanyu will be staged at Shilparamam, on 25th September.
After Bheeshma retires from the battle-field of Kurukshethra after fighting for the first 10 days, Drona takes over as the commander of Kaurava's army. Yudhishtra, who was earlier held captive by the Kaurava army, is freed by the Krishna-Arjuna duo.
The Kauravas become worried over the outcome of the war as the Pandavas have inflicted huge losses on their army. Drona hatches a chakravyuha to capture the Pandavas. He asks the Kauravas, however, to send someone to fight Krishna and Arjuna, and thus stop them from entering the chakravyuha, as they are the only ones capable of breaking it. The Kauravas then engage samasapthakas to challenge Krishna and Arjuna.
Yudhishtra feels helpless as nobody knows how to break the chakravyuha. Just then, Abhimanyu, son of Arjuna and Subhadra, appears and pleads with his uncles to allow him to break the chakravyuha. He convinces Yudhishtra that he heard his father and Lord Krishna discussing the subject when he was in his mother's womb.
Yudhishtra agrees, though unwillingly. Abhimanyu comes to his mother to seek her blessings, before going to the battlefield. Subhadra does not agree but he ignores all her requests and goes to the war.
Entering the chakravyuha, he puts up a brave fight with all the Kaurava warriors and defeats them. Realising the danger of an armed Abhimanyu, Drona tells Karna to approach Abhimanyu from behind and cut his weapons. Abhimanyu then fights with the wheels of his chariot. Drona and other warrior-leaders surround him and cut his hands. Still fighting with his shoulders, Abhimanyu dies in the battle-field.
This ballet is being sponsored by the Shilparamam and the Government of Andhra Pradesh. The artists participating in this Saptaha are Vidushaka Mahesh Maniyani, Gangadhara Puthuru, Eshwara Prasad Dharmasthala, Pookala Lakshmi Narayana Bhat, Nidle Govinda Bhat, Kumble Shridhara Rao, Subraya Holla Kasaragod, Vasantha Gowda, Sadashiva Kulal, Shiva Prasad Bhat, Ammunje Mohan, Radha Krishna, Padmanabha, Girish and Naveen Kumar.
The sapthaha starts with the ballets Sri Krishna Vivaaha on the 21st and Sri Krishna Janana - Kamsa Vadhe on 22nd at the Sundarayya Vignana Kendram, followed by Bhasmasura-Mohini on the 23rd at Shankar Math (Nallakunta), Sri Kateel Kshethra Mahathme on the 24th at the Ashtalakshmi Temple in Dilsukhnagar, Veera Abhimanyu on the 25th at Shilparamam, Sudarshanopakhyana on the 26th at Sri Raghavendra Swamy Math (Bagh Lingampally) and finally, Sri Rama Ashwamedha - Veeramani on the 27th at the Sundaraya Vignana Kendram.
Yakshagana is a classical folk art form of Karnataka, mostly popular in the districts of Uttara Kannada, Shimoga, Udupi, Dakshina Kannada and Kasargod districts. This would be considered to be a form of opera by Western eyes.
Traditionally, Yakshaganas go on for whole of the night. The actors wear resplendent costumes, head-dresses and painted faces, which they paint themselves with natural colors and dyes, and enact the various roles that usually depicts a story from the Hindu epics and puranas. A vocalist narrates the story in a song-like fashion, and is backed by musicians playing traditional musical instruments, as the actors dance to the tune, with actions that portray the story as it is being narrated.
Please contact K N Somayaji or Prema Somayaji at 2700-5783 for further details.