This is probably the first time that Karnatic music and Kattaikkuttu will meet on equal terms to explore what they share, where they differ, and how they “speak” with each other. The coming together of two artistic minds – a Karnatic vocalist T.M. Krishna and Kattaikkuttu actor, director and playwright Perungattur P. Rajagopal – has resulted in an exuberant collaborative performance. In an exhilarating exchange of repertoire elements from both forms, Karnatic and Kattaikkuttu performers present excerpts from the all-night plays, Disrobing of Draupadi and The Eighteenth Day. Karnatic music and Kattaikkuttu theatre intertwine in the performance, reinforcing and commenting upon and transforming each other. Sangeetha Sivakumar renders the lyrics to introduce the character of Draupadi, while Kattaikkuttu actress S. Tamilarasi embodies the epic heroine during the infamous disrobing scene. In a composition by Perumal Murugan especially written for the programme, T.M. Krishna reflects on the position of women in society after Draupadi has been dragged by the hair into the assembly. He responds (as Krishna) to the angry accusation of Duryodhana, performed by P. Rajagopal, that he has been pivotal in drawing the Kauravas into a devastating war that has witnessed the annihilation of all their forces. Kattaikkuttu actor singers Doraisamy, Srimathy and Bharati perform a brief excerpt from Bhaja Govindam commenting on Duryodhana’s inability to let go of his desire for power and wealth, even in the face of defeat.
Karnatic Kattaikuttu was produced and originally presented by First Edition Arts at St Andrews Auditorium in Mumbai in December 2017 as part of their annual Karnatic Modern II festival.