Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Book on Prof Vazhakunnam

The history of organised magic in Kerala is very short. Though we have enough legends and folklore about various forms of magic, this as a developed art form has taken ages before the current genre of performers. Professor Vazhakunnam as he was popularly known was the father figure of the Magic in Kerala. With his on the spot improvisation, with his quick, short & simple delivery, his natural ( for a Namboodiri) humour and the unassuming style all had contributed to his legendary success in the major part of the 20th century.

Njayath Balan is famous for his biographies of some of the most popular Kathakali masters such as Sri Ramankutty Nair and Kalamandalam Gopi, has attempted another on the life of Professor Vazhakunnam. Sadly, all he has managed to gather and compile was the already known and in circulation legends about Professor Vazhakunnam. Barring the initial pages, where he has attempted to get some information of his initial learning days and his interest in the science of elephants ( he was supposed to be an expert in Matangaleela , a knowledge he used notoriously in causing trouble and disturbances and later controlling by himself. He had to stop practising it by his father on a pledge). Most of the stories and incidents narrated here are part of the already popular legends and there was no authenticity ( I am not questioning the purpose of the stories or the effectiveness of the myths & legends).

If one is claiming this to be a biography, a bit more effort should have gone in the preparation and presentation. This book falls short of the promise, or the subject it is capable of delivering what Njayath Balan is capable of.
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Vazhakunnathinte manthrikalokamNjayath Balan
D C Books
68 Pages
Rs 40
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