Kathakali legend Kalamandalam Gopi’s grandchild Malavika debuts as Krishna

Kalamandalam Gopi
Kalamandalam Gopi with his granddaughter Malavika and her guru Adityan. Photo: Special Arrangement.

Guruvayur: Malavika Raghurajan, the granddaughter of legendary Kathakali maestro Kalamandalam Gopi, performed her ‘arangettam’ (debut on stage) in Kathakali at Melpathur auditorium at Lord Krishna Temple in Guruvayur on Friday. Incidentally, the role of Malavika in an act from ‘Subhadraharanam’ (abduction of Subhadra) was that of Krishna himself.

Among those present on the front row of the auditorium to enjoy the Kathakali event were Gopi and his family members. Malavika, who followed the family tradition of enacting ‘pacha’ (virtuous) mythological characters in Kathakali, is the daughter of Raghurajan, a bank official who is the son of Gopi and Kalamandalam Sreekala, a teacher in music.

For Malavika’s debut, a rarely-performed scene from ‘Subhadraharanam’ was chosen. It showed Indra, the king of Gods, seeking permission from Krishna after fixing the marriage of Arjuna with Subhadra, who is Krishna’s sister. During the performance, Krishna listens intently to Indra’s words. According to Kathakali aficionados who were part of the audience, Malavika reminded them of Gopi’s young days.

Malavika, a Class 8 student at Kendriya Vidyalaya, Puranattukara, had started learning Kathakali from her legendary grandfather two years ago. Presently, she trains under Kalamandalam Adityan. Malavika is also learning music and other dance forms. In music, her own mother is Malavika’s guru.

During Malavika’s debut, Kalamandalam Naveen performed as Indra. Vocals were by Kalamandalam Viswas and Kalamandalam Yadu Krishna; ‘chenda’ by Kalamandalam Sudheesh; ‘maddalam’ by Kalamandalam Vysakh; ‘chutti’ by Kalamandalam Vysakh and background by Ramesan and Arun. Malavika’s Kathakali makeup was prepared by her guru Adityan himself.

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