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Old 7th January 2009, 00:52   #1
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Default Yakshagana - A coastal Karnataka art form

Recently we had some visitors who were interested in checking out the cultural scene of Coastal Karnataka. They mainly had two items in mind, Kambala and Yakshagana. Since Kambala schedule is rarely published, we couldn’t arrange that. However Yakshagana was a breeze since the local paper publishes the Yakshagana schedules every day.

More info on Yakshagana: Yakshagana - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
My previous thread on Kambala: https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...lo-racing.html

Of course, we had to make sure it was a good Mela (theatre group) so that the visitors are not short changed by bad performance. Finally we found one in a nearby town where my office administrator had good contacts. That meant we could get front row chairs, right in the nose-bleed section.
We showed up around 9:45PM and the play had already started. It generally starts around 9PM and goes all the way till 5-6AM. Even now this art form is very popular in the villages around Mangalore & Udupi.

One word about photography. Almost all shots were taken at ISO2000 and F/3.X so that I can capture fast action in low light. Often light kept changing abruptly and kept spoiling lots of photos. Finally, I didn’t not do any manual post-processing. I just converted the raw into jpg using the adobe camera raw in 2 batches using default settings.

The play was Mohini-Bhasmasura and it start with Shiva and Parvathi discussing logistics of getting Bhasma (ash) for Shiva to apply all over his body.

Here he is explaining the importance of obtaining clean ash without any impurities.

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Alright lady, get on with it and get me my ash.

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The lady is back with the ash and Shiva is about to adorn it.

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Oops, it is contaminated. Shiva is furious and ready to chuck it away.

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He is devastated, and laments about how he can get this done reliably and efficiently every day.

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Meanwhile, check out his belt.

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OK, decision time.

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Parvathi concurs.

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They decide to conjure up a son named Bhasmasura to collect Bhasma (ash) every day.

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Ok, I must confess here. I have read lots and lots Indian mythology since childhood. But I never heard a version of Mohini-Bhasmasura story where Bhasmasura was Shiva’s son. This came as a minor shock to me. I guess they make up lots of mythology on the fly in folk plays.

Now here comes Bhasmasura. This guy makes a fantastic entrance and just overshadows other actors for rest of the play. This guy was simply brilliant, just watch his mannerisms.

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The last shot was at 1/15 speed (F/3.2 & ISO2000). All the shots in red happened when the light just changes to red to show the furious mood of the character. Yup, that used to spoil the available light and the shot.

To Be Continued...
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Old 7th January 2009, 01:10   #2
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Now that his 5 minutes long entrance is complete, he starts a very hilarious exchange with his new father. It is pretty funny, almost slap stick comedy of errors for next 10-15 minutes, keeps the audience in splits.

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Now that Bhasmasura is ready for some serious talk, Shiva gives him the boon of education by writing letters into his tongue.

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And then he is given the responsibility of getting ash from the mountain.

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To be continued...
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Old 7th January 2009, 01:26   #3
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Oops! There is trouble in the paradise. The god king Indra and others are into usual mischief. They taunt and make fun of the ash carrying Bhasmasura and his is not amused.

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And he complains to the father.

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But the father is not sure how to help his son. But Bhasmasura is thinking hard…

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And then he requests the father for a peculiar power. If he places his palm on anybody, they will burn to ashes. Bhasmasura => Ash Demon.

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Muhaahaahahahahah… our man is full of glee

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Now he starts plotting, how to teach the proper lesson to Indra and his cohorts.

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That’s it! The decision is made.

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Now he goes into a furious dance describing his sinister plans…

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At this precise moment, one of visitors was feeling very tired and therefore we folded the camera/tripod and walked out. After all we had planned to stay only couple of hours and we were able to see some fantastic performance.
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Old 7th January 2009, 02:32   #4
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Fantastic !

Low light photos especially even at ISO 2000 show very less noise.
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Old 7th January 2009, 09:21   #5
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Thanks Abhijit, that credit should go to Olympus E3. I mainly used 12-60mm and 50-200mm during the play. I never used flash since I didn't want to disturb the performers.
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Old 7th January 2009, 10:07   #6
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Very nice. Something new.
The guy performing Bhasmasur will be perfect for Ravana role in Ramayan.
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Old 7th January 2009, 10:21   #7
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I once saw Yakshagana performence at Nrithyagram during the Vasantha Habba.I was spell bound by the charecters and their form
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Old 7th January 2009, 11:18   #8
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Brilliant pics Sharath. My fav is especially the 6th one in your post #:3. The on board IS system of E3 must have proved a great help in low-light. Did I read tripod at some place? All shots with tripod mounted cam?
The Karnataka Sangha, Delhi organises Yakshgana performances and Giggi singings and particularly this Mohini-Bhasmasura act is a very popular one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
Thanks Abhijit, that credit should go to Olympus E3. I mainly used 12-60mm and 50-200mm during the play. I never used flash since I didn't want to disturb the performers.

Last edited by gd1418 : 7th January 2009 at 11:20.
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Old 7th January 2009, 11:43   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gd1418 View Post
The on board IS system of E3 must have proved a great help in low-light. Did I read tripod at some place? All shots with tripod mounted cam?
Yes, mainly to support the heavy camera, E3 with 50-200mm it weighs closed to 2Kgs. Since I used a ball head, it is very easy to operate and compose the shot with one hand while mounted on tripod. The ball head is not tightened at any point, it is like using the wimberley, except I can't leave my hand. So technically these are not tripod shots, just tripod supported for weight.
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Old 7th January 2009, 12:14   #10
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Haoaaa!!! this is something amazing the getup of these characters are so lively,Ive never seen something like this before,as usual nice pics samurai your a pro
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Old 7th January 2009, 12:47   #11
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I have a very funny incident to narrate, and that involved Yakshagaana. My roommate at the erstwhile KREC Surathkal was a big Yakshagaana fan and from what I heard from him, he even participated in some shows. There was a show organized in our campus itself and I knowing nothing about it, was curious to check it out. He offered to tell me more about it as and when it went on.

There we sat at the outdoor auditorium watching the play. About one and half hours passed and my friend was very engrossed in the play. I did not want to disturb his thoughts, so, we both kept quiet. After about 1.5-2 hours, it looked like the play ended. So, I got up to go back to my room. I asked him whether he was coming. He told me that the show was still not over. I checked him what all that was, that happened just then. He replied, "It was Ganesha Pooja. The show will now begin"

Please pardon my ignorance. That was then. Believe me, after that, I sat through a few plays, for the whole duration, during my college days. I really enjoyed them.

Thanks for bringing back those memories.
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Old 7th January 2009, 13:13   #12
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Sharath you know when you stay in a village far away from the concrete jungle, it always has its brighter side. You come up with some of the most distinct set of travelogues and not to forget your coverage of the Kambala .

Wonderful narration for novices who haven't heard about the Yakshagaana.

My only experience watching this was at the Vasantha habba .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
Yes, mainly to support the heavy camera, E3 with 50-200mm it weighs closed to 2Kgs. Since I used a ball head, it is very easy to operate and compose the shot with one hand while mounted on tripod. The ball head is not tightened at any point, it is like using the wimberley, except I can't leave my hand. So technically these are not tripod shots, just tripod supported for weight.
Since you already carried a tripod why dint you try for better exposures with lesser noise ?

OT : Where are mallu boys from Gods own Country ? Aren't you chaps planning to shoot theyyam and put it up here for us lesser mortals.

Last edited by rjstyles69 : 7th January 2009 at 13:14.
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Old 7th January 2009, 13:39   #13
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Fantastic narration and excellent pics. Thanks for sharing Samurai.

The Bhasmasur's pics are brilliant.

Coming from north Karnataka, I haven't had a chance to watch a full fledged show. But I remember a lone artist coming to my school and performing.

Last edited by safari_lover : 7th January 2009 at 13:42.
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Old 7th January 2009, 13:46   #14
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wow nice once....long time since i went for a show....keep it coming
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Old 7th January 2009, 14:14   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjstyles69 View Post
Since you already carried a tripod why dint you try for better exposures with lesser noise ?
How Riju, the performers are moving and dancing all the time. There is no scope for low speed photography to bring tripod into the equation.
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