3 MAJOR REASONS WHY “VANAPRASTHAM” IS THE BEST MOVIE BASED ON KATHAKALI.

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VANAPRASTHAM

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In the world of Indian cinema, there have been very few movies that have been based on the popular classical dance form Kathakali. One such movie is the Malayalam cult classic “Vanaprastham” (meaning pilgrimage) directed by Shaji N Karun released in 1999. There are a few reasons as to why “Vanaprastham” is considered to be the best movie based on “Kathakali”. The three major reasons are as follows:

MAJOR REASON 1: THE CHOREOGRAPHY AND CINEMATOGRAPHY

Literally meaning “a story narrated through performing arts”, Kathakali is essentially a major Indian classical dance form that involves the use of “intricate” choreography. Now, in this movie “Vanaprastham” each and every dance sequence has been exquisitely and realistically choreographed.  Furthermore, what adds charm to the beauty of the choreography is the magnificent cinematography by the talented Santosh Sivan and Renato Berta from Switzerland. So beautiful is the lighting used by the cinematographers that it does give the audience a realistic feel of the ambience that surrounds a “Kathakali” performance.

MAJOR REASON 2: THE MUSIC

Music is an integral part of Kathakali, and this is quite beautifully reflected in this movie. With the brilliant soundtrack composed by Tabla maestro Zakir Hussain playing a huge role in making this movie a true cinematic masterpiece to be based on this ancient classical Indian dance form. What stands out is, the brilliant use of percussion instruments by Hussain in the music accompanying the dance sequences. Now, the instruments mainly used in this dance form are “percussive” in nature. And, so it is this extensive use of percussion instruments by the composer that enables the audience to actually get a realistic sense of atmosphere that surrounds the dancer during a performance, thereby making it an authentic “Kathakali” movie.

MAJOR REASON 3: THE PERFORMANCE

As for the performance in this movie, the great Malayalam superstar Mohanlal who plays the role of a professional kathakali artiste is simply outstanding to say the least. The fact that this great artiste from Kerala manages to express subtly through his “eyes and face” (an ability he is renowned for) in all the major dance sequences in the movie only adds “beauty and grace” to this dance style. In addition, this performance also shows the audience a glimpse of the kind of acting that this classical dance form known as “Kathakali” essentially requires.

In conclusion, it would be fair to say that “Vanaprastham” is in fact the best Indian movie to be based on the classical dance form originating from Kerala known as “KATHAKALI”.

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