Sreepadmanabham, Amrita TV’s new mega serial, is a historical drama that circumnavigates the Padmanabhaswamy temple of Travancore, the richest shrine in the world and depicts the fascinating tale of its past , by deftly braiding together authentic historical incidents, spiritual beliefs and mythical lore associated with the kshethra.
Directed by eminent film director Suresh Unnithan , the serial’s credit list stars some of the most celebrated names in the TV acting echelon such as Devan, Mohan Sharma, ‘Nivedhyam’ Padmakumar, Praveena, Ambika, Sreelekshmi, Shalu Menon, Maya Moushmi, Reshmi Boban, Sharath, Sonu etc. To be launched on January 26th , it will be telecast Monday to Friday at 9.30pm.
The programme picks up the thread at the critical juncture of Thripadidanam, wherein Marthanda Varma, wearied by the domestic unrest sprouting all over Travancore, surrenders his kingdom at the feet of the deity and vows to rule thenceforth as Padmanabha Dasa,the slave of the Lord. Miraculously, the rebellion subsides and peace reigns over the province. On this occasion, the grateful monarch discloses the ancient folklore about the temples’ origin to his nephew and crown prince, Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma.
According to the legend, Viluamangalathu Swamiyar, the priest of the Anathapuram Temple in Kasargode prayed incessantly for a divya darshan and the Lord appeared before him in the guise of a boy. The Swamiyar followed him into the Anandankadu where He revealed himself in his reclining posture, in all His majesty. The temple was created on that very spot under the patronage of the ruler of Travancore.
Portrayed in dramatic detail and re splendid in the colorful costumes of the times, the narrative chronicles all the highpoints in the history of the temple from the periods of Ravivarma Kulasekhara to Chittira Thirunal –the development of the Ettarayogam council who controlled the temple’s administration , the clashes between the King and the Pottis of the council over its management, the emergence of the Ettuveetil Pillamar as the overlords of the 8 provinces of the kingdom and who became more powerful than the monarch and conspired to kill the king; how the king managed to escape the assassination attempts by the skin of his teeth ; the rites and rituals special to the temple; the unwavering faith of the devotees in the powers of the deity, the lives of the artisans dependent on the temple for their livelihood –are all woven into the fabric of the tale to present a credible and engrossing depiction of the bygone age.
Without distorting history or needlessly exaggerating mythical beliefs, Sreepadmanabham gives spiritual gratification to the devout and accurate facts to the curious by its re-enactment of real historical events.
In spite of its almost iconic status, not many know much about the shrine’s antecedents. Strangely enough no real attempt has been made till date in the visual medium to tap into the narrative possibilities of the subject. Sreepadmanabham is virtually the first television endeavor to recount the tale of the temple, that is so intertwined with the history of princely Travancore and the erstwhile royal family.