Archive for December, 2011

BCKA join hands with Kairalee Kalasamithi to present a Kathakali performance

“Kirmeera Vadham” with *Ninam* performed for the first time in Bangalore

On Saturday  7th January 2012, 5.30 PM At Kairalee Nilayam Auditorium, Vimanapura.

 The Pandavas accompanied by Draupadi were forced to live in the forest after they were defeated by the Kauravas in a game of dice. When they were in the forest Arjuna kills rakshasa Shardula angering the demon’s wife Simhika who tries to abduct Draupadi. Draupadi is rescued by Sahadeva who disfigures Simhika. This makes Kirmira who is Simhika’s brother very angry. He eventually gets killed by Bhima after a fight.

 Scene 1: Simhika’s Thiranottam : Simhika is waiting for her husband who went to the forest to hunt for meat. She is worried about the delay. Hearing the news about his death she is very upset and angry and plans to take revenge. She disguises as a beautiful damsel Lalitha.

 Scene 2: The beauty of the forest is described by Lalitha to Draupadi. Simhika in disguise as Lalitha lures Draupadi to the forest when she is all alone. Draupadi gets frightened and says she wants to go back home. Simhika then assumes her true form and takes her away. Her loud cries are heard by Sahadeva the youngest of the Pandavas who fights Simhika and cuts her nose and breasts. He rescues Draupadi.

 Scene 3 : Kirmira Thiranottam: Kirmeera the brother of Simhika is very angry when he hears about his brother-in-laws death. He hears a loud noise and sees an ugly and bleeding form coming towards him who is his Simhika. Ninam comes from behind the audience with cut nose and breasts, blood over flowing. She comes with two people supporting her.

*Ninam* represents the navarasas bheebhalsa and fear with blood and gore, often frightening and revolting in appearance in classical forms. This is a very difficult act to perform unless the actor is very versatile. The ‘rakshasi’ is ninam in the stories. The process of preparing for Ninam takes 3-4 hours. The artist wears 24 meters of cloth and when soaked with the prepared blood becomes 42 kilos to carry.  

 She shows her wounds to Kirmeera. He pacifies her and promises to punish all the Pandavas. Kirmeera challenges the Pandavas. Bhima takes up the challenge and in the encounter with Kirmeera, kills him.

Artists :  Simhika : Kalamandalam Hari R Nair, Lalitha : Kalamandalam Anilkumar, Panchali : Kalamandalam Vaishakh, Sahadevan & Bheeman : Kalamandalam Prashanth,  Kirmeeran : Kalamandalam Ravikumar,    Vocal : Kalamandalam Harish & Kalamandalam Vinod, Chenda: Kalamandalam Venu & Kalamandalam Ravishankar, Maddlam : Kalamandalam Vineeth & Kalanilayam Rakesh, Chutti : Kalamandalam Balan,  Aniyara :  Shaji, Arun, Chinosh, Chamayam : Kalatharangini, Cheruthuruthi.


Truth #1

Posted: December 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

KALEIDOSCAPES 2011 – At Alliance Francaise a visual treat.

Alliance Francaise hosted KALEIDOSCAPES 2011 an exhibition of paintings, photographs and sculptures by seven eclectic artists on December 10th at 5 pm and all day on the December 11th.

The event was kick-started by Philippe Gasparini the Director of Alliance Francaise cutting the ribbon and lighting the lamp.

The young and energetic artists let their canvas and sculptures speak to the viewers. A rich tapestry of colours intermingled with dynamic themes. Acrylic on canvas vied with mixed media on canvas and oil on canvas to produce an eclectic effect with signature themes for each artist.

Ramesh Nambiar, Pooja Surana and Adithi Sarovar presented their paintings while Chandrashekar Naik, Yatiraj M and Hemavathi S.L exhibited their sculptures.  The group of seven diverse thinkers with their medium and tools captured the imagination of the viewers in the gallery making it an enjoyable evening.

“Mark Atkins!” “Mark, attention boy, we are on a roll again!”

The voice thundered and boomed in his head. The intonation of it was not lost on him. He woke up with a start and stared around him. The darkness of the room hit him like an opaque wall. His eyes peered desperately for any sign of life around him. The ticking of the clock was all he heard. He fell back on the pillows and slapped his forehead with his palm and willed himself to sleep. After an hour of tossing and turning his tired mind blanked out and passed into a deep sleep.

This was his third week after his return from deputation in Iraq. He was physically present at home but mentally far away in a distant land that was not only different in terrain and people but a world apart in culture and beliefs. He was so used to walking around in his army fatigues with a rifle slung on his shoulder and heavy soled shoes. His eyes were constantly on the watch. Every time his army cavalcade moved around the troubled hot spots the brain was in high gear listening, watching, and waiting for the sound of gunfire and an ambush. His nerves were frayed. Two weeks back an army cavalcade was ambushed and he had lost his dear friend Sgt. Steven Miller. Steven was from the 2nd battalion, 16th infantry, 4th brigade combat team the news had announced that night. They had returned his body home, with full honors with the country’s flag wrapped around the coffin. Mark had died on that day and every other day when another innocent was killed. Some days it was his men, some days the innocent people of the land who just wanted it all to end.

Peace was nowhere in sight and those who battled on were losing their confidence steadily. Nobody knew why the war was being fought anymore. The clarity of vision was lost but patriotism towards their homeland drove them on. They were soldiers.. They had to fight no matter what. There was no room for negotiations. It was to do and die. They had chosen that path and it was a matter of honor. They were duty bound. They saw it day in and day out. The innocent were being killed, life disrupted, a lack of order, children unable to attend school, men of the house unable to work regularly for fear of being killed in a bomb blast and as if this wasn’t enough they lost their friends one after the other . The coffins did not stop going home.  They weren’t even featured in the eight-0-clock headline news anymore. Of course! The rest of the country had to eat their dinner in peace while watching TV. It was only the mothers and the nearest of kin who would suffer for the rest of their life. There would be state honors and an epitaph that spoke of another brilliant soldier who gave up his life. A widow, an orphan, a child without a father or mother would be the consequence, just like any other war. They would cope eventually and move on.

Mark’s wife Linda snuggled closer to him and held him tight. She hadn’t seen much of him since their marriage. He hadn’t seen their new born either. Linda had managed with help from relatives to bring up their little one. Frequent calls and letters were their only means of communication. She had forgotten how it felt to be holding him close and cuddling with him on a cold winter night in New London. She had forgotten how he smelt or felt for that matter. So had he. But life had not gone back to routine and it wasn’t easy for either of them. Marks recurring nightmares had disrupted their life and he had become strangely aloof. There were times when he felt like a social outcast. Memories, mostly harsh ones of his friends dying in his arms and seeing torn flesh and gory blood had numbed his senses way more than he had imagined. Linda was a stranger to him now and he was coping, knowing her and loving her all over again. She was excruciatingly patient and helpful with him.

Mark’s steady breathing calmed Linda’s turbulent mind. She looked into the darkness and wondered who the stranger in her bed was. Where was he? Somewhere in Iraq she had lost her husband and had to reclaim him all over again. Tears flowed down her cheeks silently. She held him closer, like a mother protecting her child. She wanted him back so badly that it hurt.

A strange guttural sound emanated from Mark and he sat upright screaming in agony. His hands flailed in the darkness, shielding his eyes. He was mouthing something in a language Linda did not understand. Linda jumped up and turned on the light, flooding the room with its intensity. She tucked Mark’s head into the curve of her shoulders and patted him gently whispering his name. This was the routine now. Those nightmares wouldn’t go away. Mark opened his eyes and looked at Linda, the realization dawning on him. His body racked with sobs as he silently shed tears. He held her and cried.

 “I am sorry baby! I can’t help it!” he said.

 “It’s okay! Its okay,” she said calming him.

A child’s cry from the nursery brought them back to the awareness of another person, whose needs were more urgent. Linda disengaged herself and left the room to attend to the little one. Mark crashed back on to the pillows and stared hard at the ceiling numbed and spent.

 Days passed on into months and somewhere along those days that stretched endlessly, a life had to come back to normalcy. Mark coped, learned and re-learned to be human again. The pain was evident occasionally but time had made those memories more hazy and bearable.

 There were others who had lost a limb or had lost the fight to survive. But he wasn’t giving up easy. Not tomorrow or ever. He owed it to his family and to himself. He had to find his bearings and un-become the zombie that he had come to be. He had to make the rest of his life a bed of roses to protect his sanity and for his family. It was a hard climb but he did so eventually just like those before him and after him. The personal hell he had gone through would stay tucked away in his memories, safely in the fissures of his mind.


Last 5 Minutes

Posted: December 10, 2011 in Fictional stories
Tags: , ,

The copter veered first to the left and then to the right. A strange clanking noise followed by a small thud or was it a boom like a car back firing. Sergeant Nick Kendall couldn’t tell for sure. He just knew something wasn’t right. The occupants looked at each other with trepidation and a creased brow. They had this weird feeling in the pit of their stomach as the copter continued heading north towards the Killaon Mountains where they were to meet with the rest of the brigade for mountaineering activities they were training for. The CH-47 Sea Night, a Marine transport helicopter was often used for these activities when not engaged in war. The chopper had gone through routine inspections at the base before take off and the six army personnel had backed their army rucksacks and headed for duty.

Sergeant Jimmy Johnson had kissed his wife hurriedly and told her he would meet her in a week after the exercises were completed. Ryan their 8–yr-old had left for school that morning in the school bus. Jimmy had promised Ryan a toy remote controlled copter on his return. He sat buckled down to his seat now, his palms sweating. He knew something was wrong. The pilot had announced that they were having technical problems.

Unfortunately for the occupants there was no clear landing spots for as far as the eye could see. The swollen Shamrock River flowed in a yellow sinuous path between thick and lush jungles of Chile. The mountains stretched endlessly covered in lustrous green. The only available landing areas were far beyond the mountains where the training was scheduled. They knew this and what followed were an ominous silence and a clear and present danger of loosing it all in a hostile environment with no chances of survival. Each one of them lost in heir own world of thoughts and last minute prayers for their near and dear ones.

Shawn looked out of the window and noticed they were losing altitude soon. The whirring of the propellers sounded eerie and out of sync. His face broke out into a sweat. It was three years since he joined this brigade and had loved every moment of it. But now he wished he had opted for the ground training he had earlier set his sights on. Visions of his pretty wife and 2-yr-old kid flashed before his eyes. Sheila and he had fallen in love at the academy and had run to the altar for their wedding vows. They couldn’t wait to be with each other. How were they going to manage without him? Sheila and he had planned on having a second child soon. She was the love of his life. He wished he had told her so more often. He wished they had made love yesterday, when all he did was turn away claiming fatigue from his drill. Tears welled in his eyes.

Rory McKnight sat quietly and thought about his parents in Midfield, Chicago. His father had survived a prostate cancer and was recovering. They had promised to meet for Christmas after his training. There wouldn’t be one anymore. He had forgotten to call them that morning since he was running late. His mother would be waiting for his call he knew.

Patrick put his hands in his pocket and pulled out his wallet. The pictures of his family choked him. His wife Glenda and his two lovely kids were in the picture they took last year at a mall. “I love you all,” he whispered. His only sister was in Detroit. He hadn’t talked to her in over a year over something so silly; he couldn’t even remember what it was. Why hadn’t he called up and patched up with her. He felt an overwhelming remorse and sorrow. This wasn’t supposed to end this way at all. He wanted another chance to set things right in life. It would weigh on his conscience for ever.

The copter lost altitude steadily and the pilot was trying in vain to ease it into a small clearing on the ground. His duty called both to salvage the chopper and save the occupants. The rotors were spluttering and not co-operating. After sending the required May Day signals and location grid he said a prayer and just stared out into the blue sky.

The copter crashed into the thicket at 1100 hours. There were two survivors with varying degrees of disability. The last five minutes of their life was a flash of light and their life a gift to renew. They would live on to look at everything with a different perspective. Things they took for granted.

Yesterday is history

Tomorrow is a mystery

Today is a gift, hence called the present!


-Suja Sukumaran