Mantapa Prabhakara Upadhya complete works documentation

Yakshagana, one of the most illustrious traditional theatrical forms of South India. Solo performance in Yakshagana style is an entirely new and refreshingly original innovation in the classical dance-drama systems of India. Here the Natya (theatrical) form of the original art is kept intact and the Bhana / Bhanika (solo) dimension is aesthetically developed.

Mantap Prabhakara Upadhya was born and brought up at a village Parampalli, Saligrama where Yakshagana was the traditional art and only entertainment for people. Right from his school days he had great interest in Yakshagana which turned him into a refined, radiating and ingenious artist by vocation and led him to open up a new world of diligence and delight. Mantap was trained in the famed Yakshagana Kendra at Udupi during 1975-1976. As a full time artist he enacted in various troupes during the years 1976-1980

Mantap’s unique portraiture of Sthreevesha (female characters) such as Ambe, Mohini, Chitrakshi, Menake, Vijayashri, Poothani became legends and he became a household name in the lore of Yakshagana.

Mantap’s second innings started with the concept of ‘Ekavyakthi Yakshagana’ which is a unique and wonderful concept conceived and designed by Dr. Ganesh. This was the path breaking concept of solo performance of Streevesha in Yakshagana. Mantap has introduced many ‘Chaaris’. ‘Nrithyahasthas’ and several ‘Karanaamshaas’ of Naatyashasthra too into the existing nritta repertoire of Yakshagana under the able guidance of Guru Smt. Sundari santhanam. He has also introduced significant changes in the use of ornaments and attire of Yakshagana Sthreevesha. He has now successfully staged over 1000 shows of ‘Ekavyakthi Yakshagana’ all over India and abroad. Rasikas, scholars and cultural organizations have enjoyed, patronized and rewarded the team duly.

We decided to document the entire works of Mantapa Prabhakara Upadhya and approached him. He was gracious to agree to be a part of this documentation and also funded the technical requirement for the documentation. This resulted in the first ever complete documentation of an individual artist in Yakshagana. It is an 8 part series with 12 hour of performance and one hour of commentary by Shatavadhani Dr. R. Ganesh on aesthetics of this performance.