Learning computer application is hard, performing Kathakali is even harder. Sruthi. S. Menon, student of II MCA of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham has been handling both. She has been performing Kathakali in more than 30 stages for the last nine years. She has learned this art from Kalamandalam under the guidance of Kalamandalam Krishnakumar and Kerala Kalamandalam Venkataraman. She is also an expert in Bharathanatyam, Mohiniyattam and Kuchipudi.Excerpts from an interview with Sruthi Menon:
What made you to get into the world of Kathakali?
Love and passion that I developed for Kathakali over the years. When I was in eighth standard, I started learning it for the purpose of participating in State Youth Festivals. As I won prizes for two consecutive years, I started studying it seriously and systematically.
Why is it hard for girls to learn Kathakali?
All the steps or adavu of Kathakali is designed for men only. It is very adventurous and needs concentration. You should be healthy enough to carry the vesham (costume) and perform.
Did you face any opposition in performing this art?
There was opposition especially against a girl performing in temples. I’m the first woman to perform in Palakkad Hanuman temple. Luckily I had support from my family members though not from every one.
How is your experience in Kalamandalam as a student?
The training is tough but the ultimate result is good.
Among your performances, which gave you the best satisfaction?
There are three performances. My role as Dakshan in Dakshayagam for Ekadasi at Guruvayur in 2004, next Seetha in Lavanasura Vadham for Ramanavami in Palakkad Fort temple in 2005 and finally hanuman in Kalyana Soughandhikam in Amrita School of Arts and Science in 2007.
How can you distinguish Kathakali and other art forms?
For all these forms, you must have the sense of expression and rhythm. In Kathakali, the expressions should be exaggerated to make the audience understand even if they don’t know mudras.
How is the support from faculty and students here?
I did my BCA in Amrita campus, Kochi. Every one supported me which helped me to perform there twice. Here most of the time, I rejected offers thinking about my studies though my teachers and friends stood with me.