There were long queues of viewers for Parashurama ~ The Axe-wielding Rama, presented by Kalavedi at the Shriram Centre last week. A mythological dance-theatre production by Shashidharan Nair in collaboration with the Indian Revival Group, the presentation was based on the legend of Parasurama, the sixth incarnation, or Avatar, of Vishnu, the story of a boy, who was forced to take difficult decisions in order to fulfill his duties towards his parents and to the idea of a fair and just society.
The impressive production was designed, directed and choreographed by Shashidharan Nair, a well-known and exceptionally-gifted dancer/choreographer, who has mastered Kathakali, Mayurbhanj Chhau and Kalaripayattu under legendary Gurus.
Associated with Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra for over three decades, where he choreographed and participated in some of their critically acclaimed dance productions, he has also directed Sampurna Ramayana, the mega-production for Delhi Government, annually presented on the occasion of Dussera.
The story of Parashurama, the only Brahma-Kshatriya, born in a Brahmin family with Kshatriya traits of fearlessness and valour, covers the important episodes of his life journey right from his receiving the axe (Parashu), bequeathed by Lord Shiva after his arduous penance, undertaking the Kathin Tapasya.
Parasurama also appears in Ramayana when Rama breaks Shiva’s bow in Sita’s swayamvara, interestingly the only instance, where two incarnations of Vishnu come face to face as adversaries! The storyline proceeds through impressive dialogue delivery, the emotional impact of Abhinaya and dynamic dance sequences.
The captivating choreography of Shashidharan Nair is enhanced by the appropriate music, like the use of Chenda, Maddalam and Talam for the valour of Parashurama and shades of classical to folk music for other dance sequences, thoughtfully conceived and composed by Madho Prasad.
Answering my question on “how the idea of Parashurama came to his mind”, Shashidharan’s prompt reply echoes his conviction: “I thought it was so relevant in present times. Parashurama was dreaded as the man, who decimated the entire ruling class in a bygone era. It is believed that the main purpose of Vishnu’s sixth incarnation was to free the earth’s burden by assassinating the sinful and irreligious kings, who neglected their duties. The terrorism and other problems of our times often reminded me of Parashurama, hence I conceived, choreographed and directed Parashurama to shake the society awake of their slumber.”