Kerala Minister Bindu plays Mahabharata’s Damayanti as she performs Kathakali after 3 decades

Bindu played Damayanti in the one-and-half-hour performance of “Nalacharitham”, a classic text in Kathakali written by Unnayi Warrier. Photo: Manorama

Thrissur: It was indeed a different act by a minister as R Bindu appeared on stage, dressed up as Damayanti of Mahabharata. The professor-turned higher education minister of Kerala was playing the lead character in a Kathakali performance at the famed Koodalmanikyam Temple in her Irinjalakuda constituency.

Bindu, who has trained in Kathakali – a classical theatre art of Kerala – from the age of 13, performed on the stage after over 30 years as disciples of Kathakali maestro Guru Kalanilayam Raghavan got together for the act as part of the annual temple festival.

“Once again on the stage, and into the memories and friendships from teenage. Proud to be a dear student of Raghavan Ashan then and now,” the minister wrote on Facebook sharing a YouTube link of her live performance.

When in college, Bindu had won prizes for Kathakali competitions several times in the Calicut University Youth Festival. A CPM activist since youth days, Bindu got elected to the Kerala assembly in her first electoral contest in 2021 and was appointed a minister in the Pinarayi Vijayan-led cabinet.

Bindu played Damayanti in the one-and-half-hour performance of “Nalacharitham”, a classic text in Kathakali written by Unnayi Warrier. The play is based on the story of King Nala and Princess Damayanti from the Vana Parva of Mahabharata. C M Beena and Jayasree Gopi accompanied Bindu as friends of Damayanti while Jayanthi Devaraj played the role of Hamsam. The performance was held under the guidance of Kalanilayam Raghavan Ashan.

Kalanilayam Rajeevan and Vengeri Narayanan were the singers for the performance. Kalamandalam Sreeraj played Chenda and Kalanilayam Prakashan was on Maddalam. Nandakumar Irinjalakuda played Idakka.

Others who participated in the performance are: Mukhathedupp – Suresh Thottara and Kalamandalam Sreeram, Aniyara – oorakam Narayanan Kalamandalam Maneesh and Kalanilayam Anoop. Make-up: Rangabhoosha Irinjalakuda.  

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