Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Kathakali

Kathakali

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Kathakali'
Start a new discussion about 'Kathakali'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Kathakali is a highly stylized classical India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n dance
Dance
Dance is an art form that generally refers to movement of the body, usually rhythmic and to music, used as a form of expression, social interaction or presented in a spiritual or performance setting....

-drama
Drama
Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action" , which is derived from "to do","to act" . The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a...

 noted for the attractive make-up of characters, elaborate costumes, detailed gestures and well-defined body movements presented in tune with the anchor playback music and complementary percussion. It originated in the country's present day state of Kerala
Kerala
or Keralam is an Indian state located on the Malabar coast of south-west India. It was created on 1 November 1956 by the States Reorganisation Act by combining various Malayalam speaking regions....

 during the 17th century and has developed over the years with improved looks, refined gestures and added themes besides more ornate singing and precise drumming.

Origin


Kathakali originated from a precursor dance-drama form called Ramanattam
Ramanattam
Ramanattam is a temple art in Kerala, India. It is a dance drama and presents the story of Rama in a series of eight plays and was created under the patronage of Veera Kerala Varma alias Kottarakkara Thampuran...

 and owes it share of techniques also to Krishnanattam
Krishnanattam
Krishnanattam or Krishnattam is a temple art in Kerala, India. It is a dance drama and presents the story of Krishna in a series of eight plays and was created by Manaveda , the then Zamorin Raja of Calicut in northern Kerala .The eight plays are : Avataram, Kaliyamardanam, Rasakrida, Kamsavadham,...

. The word "attam" means enactment. In short, these two forerunning forms to Kathakali dealt with presentation of the stories of Hindu gods Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

 and Krishna.

Kottarakkarao complement Krishnanattam, which had its origin under the Zamorins of Kozhikode.

Ignoring the first phase when it was Ramanattam
Ramanattam
Ramanattam is a temple art in Kerala, India. It is a dance drama and presents the story of Rama in a series of eight plays and was created under the patronage of Veera Kerala Varma alias Kottarakkara Thampuran...

, Kathakali had its cradle in Vettattnad
Vettattnad
Vettathunad or Tanur swaroopam was a small erstwhile feudal kingdom in southern Malabar on Arabian Sea in southwest India ruled by a Hindu dynasty known as Tanur dynasty, over whom the Zamorin of Calicut claimed certain nominal suzerain rights.The King was called 'raja'or 'thampuran' or...

. Here Vettathu Thampuran, Kottayathu Thampuran and many dedicated artists like Chathu Panicker laid foundations for what is known as Kathakali now. Their efforts were concentrated on the rituals, classical details and scriptural perfection. The Kottaythu Thampuran composed four great works, ...viz. Kirmeeravadham, Bakavadham, Nivathakavacha Kalakeyavadham and Kalyanasaugandhikam. After this the most important changes in Kathakali were brought about through the effors of a single person namely, Kaplingad Narayanan Nambudiri (1739–1789). He was from the Northern Kerala
Kerala
or Keralam is an Indian state located on the Malabar coast of south-west India. It was created on 1 November 1956 by the States Reorganisation Act by combining various Malayalam speaking regions....

, but after basic instructions in various faculties of the art in Vettathu Kalari he shifted to Travancore
Travancore
Kingdom of Travancore was a former Hindu feudal kingdom and Indian Princely State with its capital at Padmanabhapuram or Trivandrum ruled by the Travancore Royal Family. The Kingdom of Travancore comprised most of modern day southern Kerala, Kanyakumari district, and the southernmost parts of...

. In the capital and many other centres he found many willing to co-operate with him in bringing about the reformations.

Kathakali also shares a lot of similarities with Krishnanattam, Koodiyattam
Koodiyattam
Koodiyattam or Kutiyattam is a form of Sanskrit theatre traditionally performed in the state of Kerala, India. Performed in the Sanskrit language in Hindu temples, it is believed to be 2,000 years old...

 (a classical Sanskrit drama existing in Kerala) and Ashtapadiyattam (an adaptation of 12th-century musical called Gitagovindam). It also incorporates several other elements from traditional and ritualistic art forms like Mudiyettu, Thiyyattu, Theyyam
Theyyam
Theyyam or Theyyattam or Thira is a popular Hindu ritual form of worship of North Malabar in Kerala state, India, predominant in the Kolathunadu area Theyyam or Theyyattam or Thira is a popular Hindu ritual form of worship of North Malabar in Kerala state, India, predominant in the Kolathunadu...

 and Padayani
Padayani
Padayani, also called Padeni, is a traditional folk dance from the central portion of the Indian state of Kerala. A ceremonial dance involving masks, it is an ancient ritual performed in Bhagavati temples...

 besides a minor share of folk arts like Porattunatakam. All along, the martial art of Kalarippayattu
Kalarippayattu
Kalaripayattu is a southern Indian martial art originating in Tamil Nadu but also practiced in contiguous parts of Kerala and Karnataka.Kalari payat includes strikes, kicks, grappling, preset forms, weaponry and healing methods...

 has influenced the body language of Kathakali. The use of Malayalam, the local language (albeit as a mix of Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 and Malayalam, called ), has also helped the literature of Kathakali sound more transparent for the average audience.

Contemporary trends


As a part of modernising, propagating, promoting and popularizing Kathakali, the International Centre for Kathakali at New Delhi has taken up a continuing project since 1980 of producing new plays based on not only traditional and mythological stories, but also historical stories, European classics and Shakespeare's plays. Recently they produced Kathakali plays based on Shakespeare's Othello and Greek-Roman mythology of Psyche and Cupid.

Elements



Kathakali is considered to be a combination of five elements of fine art:
  • Expressions
    Facial expression
    A facial expression one or more motions or positions of the muscles in the skin. These movements convey the emotional state of the individual to observers. Facial expressions are a form of nonverbal communication. They are a primary means of conveying social information among humans, but also occur...

     (Natyam, the component with emphasis on facial expressions)
  • Dance
    Dance
    Dance is an art form that generally refers to movement of the body, usually rhythmic and to music, used as a form of expression, social interaction or presented in a spiritual or performance setting....

     (Nritham, the component of dance with emphasis on rhythm and movement of hands, legs and body)
  • Enactment (Nrithyam, the element of drama with emphasis on "mudra
    Mudra
    A mudrā is a symbolic or ritual gesture in Hinduism and Buddhism. While some mudrās involve the entire body, most are performed with the hands and fingers...

    s", which are hand gestures)
  • Song/vocal accompaniment (Geetha)
  • Instrument accompaniment (Vadyam)


Even though the lyrics/literature would qualify as another independent element called Sahithyam, it is considered as a component of Geetha or music, as it plays only a supplementary role to Nritham, Nrithyam and Natyam.

Kathakali plays



Traditionally there are 101 classical Kathakali stories, though the commonly staged among them these days total less than one-third that number. Almost all of them were initially composed to last a whole night. Nowadays, there is increasing popularity for concise, or oftener select, versions of stories so as the performance lasts not more than three to four hours from evening. Thus, many stories find stage presentation in parts rather than totality. And the selection is based on criteria like choreographical beauty, thematic relevance/popularity or their melodramatic elements. Kathakali is a classical art form, but it can be appreciated also by novices—all contributed by the elegant looks of its character, their abstract movement and its synchronisation with the musical notes and rhythmic beats. And, in any case, the folk elements too continue to exist. For better appreciation, perhaps, it is still good to have an idea of the story being enacted.
The most popular stories enacted are Nalacharitham
Nalacharitham
- Nalacharitham Attakatha:The substance of the story of Nalan and Damayanthi is depicted in Mahabharatha in chapters 52 to 79 in Vanaparvam as told by Sage Brihadaswan to Dharmaputhra to exemplify the unfortunate turn of events that might take place in the lives of great men and how such things...

 (a story from the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

), Duryodhana
Duryodhana
In the Hindu epic the Mahābhārata, Duryodhana is the eldest son of the blind king Dhritarashtra by Queen Gandhari, the eldest of the one hundred Kaurava brothers, Emperor of the world at that time which means Emperor of India or Bharatvarsha as it was known at that time, cousin and the chief...

 Vadham
(focusing on the Mahabharata war after profiling the build-up to it), Kalyanasougandhikam, (the story of Bhima
Bhima
In the Mahābhārata, Bhima is one of the central characters of Mahabharata and the second of the Pandava brothers...

 going to get flowers for his wife Panchali
Draupadi
In the epic Mahābhārata, Draupadi, also known as ' is the "emerged" daughter of King Drupada of Panchāla and the wife of the five Pandavas. When Yudhisthira becomes the king of Hastinapura at the end of the war, Draupadi becomes the queen of Indraprastha...

), Keechakavadham (another story of Bhima and Panchali, but this time during their stint in disguise), Kiratham (Arjuna
Arjuna
Arjuna in Indian mythology is the greatest warrior on earth and is one of the Pandavas, the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahābhārata. Arjuna, whose name means 'bright', 'shining', 'white' or 'silver' Arjuna (Devanagari: अर्जुन, Thai: อรชุน, Orachun, Tamil: Arjunan, Indonesian and Javanese: Harjuna,...

 and Lord Shiva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

's fight, from the Mahabharata), Karnashapatham (another story from the Mahabharata), Nizhalkuthu and Bhadrakalivijayam authored by Pannisseri Nanu Pillai
Pannisseri Nanu Pillai
Pannisseri Nanu Pillai was a poet, scholar, ascetic, critic and artist from Kerala, India.He was born in Kannamkuzhy house of South Maruthoorkulangara village in Karunagappalli taluk, Kollam District, Kerala. His father was Vayalil PappuKurup and mother Planullil Kalyani Amma. His father died when...

. Also staged frequently include stories like Kuchelavrittam, Santanagopalam, Balivijayam, Dakshayagam, Rugminiswayamvaram, Kalakeyavadham, Kirmeeravadham, Bakavadham, Poothanamoksham, Subhadraharanam, Balivadham, Rugmangadacharitam, Ravanolbhavam, Narakasuravadham, Uttaraswayamvaram, Harishchandracharitam, Kacha
Kacha
Kacha may refer to:*Kacha , an urban-type settlement in Crimea, Ukraine*Kacha , a mythological sage in Hinduism*Kacha Bira, one of the 77 woredas in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Region of Ethiopia...

-Devayani
Devayani
Devayani is an Indian film actress. She starred in numerous Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam films, along with a few Hindi films and one Bengali film. She received the Tamil Nadu State Film Awards for her performances in the films Kadhal Kottai and Surya Vamsam...

 and Kamsavadham.

Recently, as part of attempts to further popularise the art, stories from other cultures and mythologies, such as those of Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene was one of Jesus' most celebrated disciples, and the most important woman disciple in the movement of Jesus. Jesus cleansed her of "seven demons", conventionally interpreted as referring to complex illnesses...

 from the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

, and William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

's King Lear
King Lear
King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. The title character descends into madness after foolishly disposing of his estate between two of his three daughters based on their flattery, bringing tragic consequences for all. The play is based on the legend of Leir of Britain, a mythological...

 and Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 besides Goethe's Faust
Faust
Faust is the protagonist of a classic German legend; a highly successful scholar, but also dissatisfied with his life, and so makes a deal with the devil, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. Faust's tale is the basis for many literary, artistic, cinematic, and musical...

 too have been adapted into Kathakali scripts and on to its stage.

Music


The language of the songs used for Kathakali is Manipravalam
Manipravalam
Manipravalam was a literary style used in medieval liturgical texts in South India, which used an admixture of Tamil and Sanskrit. Manipravalam is termed a mixture of Sanskrit and Tamil...

. Though most of the songs are set in ragas based on the microtone-heavy Carnatic music
Carnatic music
Carnatic music is a system of music commonly associated with the southern part of the Indian subcontinent, with its area roughly confined to four modern states of India: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu...

, there is a distinct style of plain-note rendition, which is known as the Sopanam
Sopanam
Sopana Sangeetham is a form of Indian classical music that developed in the temples of Kerala in south India in the wake of the increasing popularity of Jayadeva's Gita Govinda or Ashtapadis.-Etymology:...

 style. This typically Kerala style of rendition takes its roots from the temple songs which used to be sung (continues even now at several temples) at the time when Kathakali was born.

As with the acting style, Kathakali music also has singers from the northern and southern schools. The northern style has largely been groomed by Kerala Kalamandalam
Kerala Kalamandalam
Kerala Kalamandalam , lately renamed as Kalamandalam Deemed University of Art and Culture, is a major centre for learning Indian performing arts, especially those that developed in the southern state of India, with the special emphasis on Kerala. It is situated in the village of Cheruthuruthy in...

 in the 20th century. Kalamandalam Neelakantan Nambisan
Kalamandalam Neelakantan Nambisan
Kalamandalam Neelakantan Nambisan was a trend-setter Kathakali musician who played a crucial role in remoulding the aesthetics of singing for the classical dance-drama of Kerala, south India...

, an over-arching Kathakali musician of those times, was a product of the institute. His prominent disciples include Kalamandalam Unnikrishna Kurup, Kalamandalam Gangadharan, Kalamandalam P.G. Radhakrishnan, Rama Varrier, Madambi Subramanian Namboodiri, Tirur Nambissan
Tirur Nambissan
Tirur Nambissan was a Kathakali singer. Tirur Nambissan, whose name was Narayanan, was born at Tirur in the Malappuram district of Kerala in southern India. He started learning music at the age of seven, while attending the local boys' high school...

, Kalamandalam Sankaran Embranthiri
Kalamandalam Sankaran Embranthiri
Kalamandalam Sankaran Embranthiri was one of the most popular Kathakali musicians, credited with initiating a new wave in the rendition of songs for the classical dance-drama from Kerala in south India...

, Kalamandalam Hyderali
Kalamandalam Hyderali
Kalamandalam Hyderali was one of the best Kathakali singers of his generation, and the first non-Hindu artiste to make a mark in the four-century-old classical dance-drama from Kerala in south India....

, Kalamandalam Haridas, Subramanian, Kalanilayam Unnikrishnan and Kalamandalam Bhavadasan.
The other prominent musicians of the north feature Kottakkal Vasu Nedungadi, Kottakkal Parameswaran Namboodiri, Kottakkal P.D. Narayanan Namboodiri, Kottakkal Narayanan, Kalamandalam Anantha NarayananKalamandalam Sreekumar Palanad Divakaran, Kalanilayam Rajendran, Kolathappilli Narayanan Namboodiri, Kalamandalam Narayanan Embranthiri, Kottakkal Madhu
Kottakkal Madhu
Kottakkal Madhu is a Sopana music singer and composer from Kottakkal, Kerala, who specializes in the Kathakali related music . He was born to K. Govindan Nair and K. Sathyabhama. He initially learned his music from Parameswara Iyer. Subsequently, in 1980, he joined P.S.V...

, Kalamandalam Babu Namboodiri, Kalamandalam Harish and Kalamandalam Vinod. In the south, some of whom are equally popular in the north these days, include Pathiyur Sankarankutty. Southerner musicians of the older generation include Cherthala Thankappa Panikker, Thakazhi Kuttan Pillai, Cherthala Kuttappa Kurup, Thanneermukkam Viswambharan and Mudakkal Gopinathan.

Performance


Traditionally, a Kathakali performance is usually conducted at night and ends in early morning. Nowadays it isn't difficult to see performances as short as three hours or even lesser. Kathakali is usually performed in front of the huge Kalivilakku (kali meaning dance; vilakku meaning lamp) with its thick wick sunk till the neck in coconut oil. Traditionally, this lamp used to provide sole light when the plays used to be performed inside temples, palaces or abodes houses of nobles and aristocrats. Enactment of a play by actors takes place to the accompaniment of music (geetha) and instruments (vadya). The percussion instruments used are chenda
Chenda
The Chenda is a cylindrical percussion instrument used widely in the state of Kerala, and Tulu Nadu of Karnataka State in India. In Tulu Nadu it is known as Chande....

, maddalam (both of which underwent revolutionary changes in their aesthetics with the contributions of Kalamandalam Krishnankutty Poduval
Kalamandalam Krishnankutty Poduval
Kalamandalam Krishnankutty Poduval was a self-taught maestro of Kathakali percussion who excelled in the art of chenda playing by redefining its aesthetics as an audio accompaniment for the classical dance-drama from Kerala in south India....

 and Kalamandalam Appukutty Poduval
Kalamandalam Appukutty Poduval
Kalamandalam Appukutty Poduval was a maddalam maestro who rose to prominence by his aesthetically pleasing taps on the instrument—a vital percussion accompaniment for Kathakali, the classical dance-drama from Kerala in south India...

) and, at times, edakka. In addition, the singers (the lead singer is called “ponnani” and his follower is called “singidi”) use "chengila" (gong made of bell metal, which can be struck with a wooden stick) and "ilathaalam" (a pair of cymbals). The lead singer in some sense uses the Chengala to conduct the Vadyam and Geetha components, just as a conductor uses his wand in western classical music. A distinguishing characteristic of this art form is that the actors never speak but use hand gestures, expressions and rhythmic dancing instead of dialogue (but for a couple of rare characters). murali is the best dad

Acting



A Kathakali actor uses immense concentration, skill and physical stamina, gained from regimented training based on Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art of Kerala, to prepare for his demanding role. The training can often last for 8–10 years, and is intensive. In Kathakali, the story is enacted purely by the movements of the hands (called mudras or hand gestures) and by facial expressions (rasas) and bodily movements. The expressions are derived from Natyashastra (the tome that deals with the science of expressions) and are classified into nine as in most Indian classical art forms. Dancers also undergo special practice sessions to learn control of their eye movements.

There are 24 basic mudras -- the permutation and combination of which would add up a chunk of the hand gestures in vogue today. Each can again can be classified into 'Samaana-mudras'(one mudra symbolising two entities) or misra-mudras (both the hands are used to show these mudras). The mudras are a form of sign language used to tell the story.

The main facial expressions of a Kathakali artist are the 'navarasams' (Navarasas in anglicised form) (literal translation: Nine Tastes, but more loosely translated as nine feelings or expressions) which are Sringaram
Sringaram
Sringaram is a 2007 Indian Tamil period-drama film directed by debutant Saradha Ramanathan, a popular dancer. Co-written by novelist Indra Soundar Rajan and produced by Padmini Ravi, herself a dancer, it stars Aditi Rao Hydari, in her feature film debut, in the lead role, alongside Manoj K. Jayan,...

 (amour), Hasyam (ridicule, humour), Bhayanakam (fear), Karunam (pathos), Roudram (anger, wrath), Veeram (valour), Beebhatsam (disgust), Adbhutam (wonder, amazement), Shantam (tranquility, peace). The link at the end of the page gives more details on Navarasas.
One of the most interesting aspects of Kathakali is its elaborate make-up code. Most often, the make-up can be classified into five basic sets namely Pachcha, Kathi
Kathi
The word Kathi* is used sometimes as short form of Kathleen* is used to denote Kathi People - natives of Kathiawar - a region of India.* was a small princely state part of the Mewas States in former district of Khandesh....

, Kari
Kari
Kari or KARI may refer to:* Kari or curry, a pan-Asian variety of spicy food* Kari or Sundaram Karivardhan, a legendary figure of Indian motorsports*Kari , a natural satellite of Saturn*Kari , a technique in shakuhachi music...

, Thaadi, and Minukku. The differences between these sets lie in the predominant colours that are applied on the face. Pachcha (meaning green) has green as the dominant colour and is used to portray noble male characters who are said to have a mixture of "Satvik" (pious) and "Rajasik" (kingly) nature. Rajasik characters having an evil streak ("tamasic"= evil) -- all the same they are anti-heroes in the play (such as the demon king Ravana
Ravana
' is the primary antagonist character of the Hindu legend, the Ramayana; who is the great king of Lanka. In the classic text, he is mainly depicted negatively, kidnapping Rama's wife Sita, to claim vengeance on Rama and his brother Lakshmana for having cut off the nose of his sister...

) -- and portrayed with streaks of red in a green-painted face. Excessively evil characters such as demons (totally tamasic) have a predominantly red make-up and a red beard. They are called Red Beard (Red Beard). Tamasic characters such as uncivilised hunters and woodsmen are represented with a predominantly black make-up base and a black beard and are called black beard (meaning black beard). Women and ascetics have lustrous, yellowish faces and this semi-realistic category forms the fifth class. In addition, there are modifications of the five basic sets described above such as Vella Thadi |white beard) used to depict Hanuman
Hanuman
Hanuman , is a Hindu deity, who is an ardent devotee of Rama, a central character in the Indian epic Ramayana and one of the dearest devotees of lord Rama. A general among the vanaras, an ape-like race of forest-dwellers, Hanuman is an incarnation of the divine and a disciple of Lord Rama in the...

 (the Monkey-God) and Pazhuppu, which is majorly used for Lord Shiva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

 and Balabhadra.

Notable training centres and masters


Kathakali artistes need assiduous grooming for almost a decade's time, and most masters are products of accomplished institutions that give a minimum training course of half-a-dozen years. The leading Kathakali schools (some of them started during the pre-Independent era India) are
Kerala Kalamandalam
Kerala Kalamandalam
Kerala Kalamandalam , lately renamed as Kalamandalam Deemed University of Art and Culture, is a major centre for learning Indian performing arts, especially those that developed in the southern state of India, with the special emphasis on Kerala. It is situated in the village of Cheruthuruthy in...

 (located in Cheruthuruthy near Shoranur
Shoranur
Shoranur is a town and a municipality in Palakkad district, Kerala,located on the banks of the Bharathapuzha River spread over an area of 32.28 km2.it is a major transport hub , having the largest railway station in the state .Kerala Kalamandalam which is the premier centre for the learning...

), PSV Natya Sangham (located in Kottakal near Kozhikode
Kozhikode
Kozhikode During Classical antiquity and the Middle Ages, Kozhikkode was dubbed the "City of Spices" for its role as the major trading point of eastern spices. Kozhikode was once the capital of an independent kingdom of the same name and later of the erstwhile Malabar District...

), Sadanam Kathakali and Classical Arts Academy (or Gandhi Seva Sadan
Gandhi Seva Sadan
Gandhi Seva Sadan, or simply Sadanam, is a Kathakali institution located in Perur village, some 12 kilometres east of Ottapalam in Palakkad district of north-central Kerala in southern India. It was founded in 1953 by the Gandhian and freedom fighter K...

 located in Perur near Ottappalam in Palakkad), Unnayi Varier Smaraka Kalanilayam (located in Irinjalakuda
Irinjalakuda
Irinjalakuda is a municipal town situated in the Thrissur district of Kerala, India. It is famous for the sprawling Koodalmanikyam Temple that has Bharata as the main deity and the St Thomas Cathedral in the heart of the City...

 south of Thrissur
Thrissur
This article is about the city in India. For the district, see Thrissur district. For the urban agglomeration area of Thrissur see Thrissur Metropolitan Area...

), Margi
Margi
Margi is village located in the Nicosia District of Cyprus. Before 1960, the village population was made up almost exclusively of Turkish Cypriots....

 in Thiruvananthapuram
Thiruvananthapuram
Thiruvananthapuram , formerly known as Trivandrum, is the capital of the Indian state of Kerala and the headquarters of the Thiruvananthapuram District. It is located on the west coast of India near the extreme south of the mainland...

, Muthappan Kaliyogam at Parassinikkadavu
Parassinikkadavu
Parassinkkadavu is a small village about 16 km from Kannur town in the Kannur district of Kerala state, south India. It is a popular tourist destination in north Kerala...

 in Kannur
Kannur
Kannur , also known as Cannanore, is a city in Kannur district in the Indian state of Kerala. It is the administrative headquarters of the District of Kannur and 518km north of state capital Trivandrum. During British rule in India, Kannur was known by its old name Cannanore, which is still in...

 district and RLV School at Tripunithura off Kochi and Kalabharathi at Pakalkkuri near Kottarakkara
Kottarakkara
Kottarakkara , also transliterated as Kottarakara, is a town and taluk in Kollam District , in Kerala state, India. The town is close to the Kollam port which has a rich history linked to the early medieval period as well as a reputation for being an important commercial, industrial and trading...

 in Kollam
Kollam
Kollam , often anglicized as ', is a city in the Indian state of Kerala. The city lies on the banks of Ashtamudi Lake on the Arabian sea coast and is situated about north of the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram...

 district, Sandarshan Kathakali Kendram in Ambalapuzha and Vellinazhi Nanu Nair Smaraka Kalakendra in Kuruvattor. Outside Kerala, Kathakali is being taught at the International Centre for Kathakali in New Delhi
New Delhi
New Delhi is the capital city of India. It serves as the centre of the Government of India and the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. New Delhi is situated within the metropolis of Delhi. It is one of the nine districts of Delhi Union Territory. The total area of the city is...

, Santiniketan
Santiniketan
Santiniketan is a small town near Bolpur in the Birbhum district of West Bengal, India, approximately 180 kilometres north of Kolkata . It was made famous by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, whose vision became what is now a university town that attracts thousands of visitors each year...

 at Visva-Bharati University
Visva-Bharati University
Visva Bharati University is a Central University for research and teaching in India, located in the twin towns of Santiniketan and Sriniketan in the Indian state of West Bengal. It was founded by Rabindranath Tagore who called it Visva Bharati, which means the communion of the world with India...

 in West Bengal
West Bengal
West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India and is the nation's fourth-most populous. It is also the seventh-most populous sub-national entity in the world, with over 91 million inhabitants. A major agricultural producer, West Bengal is the sixth-largest contributor to India's GDP...

, Kalakshetra
Kalakshetra
Kalakshetra is a cultural academy dedicated to the preservation of traditional values in Indian art, especially in the field of Bharatanatyam dance and Gandharvaveda music. The academy was founded in January 1936 by Rukmini Devi Arundale. Under Arundale's guidance the institution achieved national...

 in Chennai
Chennai
Chennai , formerly known as Madras or Madarasapatinam , is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal. Chennai is the fourth most populous metropolitan area and the sixth most populous city in India...

 and Darpana Academy in Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad also known as Karnavati is the largest city in Gujarat, India. It is the former capital of Gujarat and is also the judicial capital of Gujarat as the Gujarat High Court has its seat in Ahmedabad...

 among others. PadmaSree Guru Chengannur Raman Pillai mostly known as 'Guru Chengannur'was running a traditional Gurukula Style approach to propagate Kathakali.

‘Curu Chengannur” is ever renowned as the Sovereign Guru of Kathakali. His precision in using symbols, gestures and steps were highest in the field of Kathakali.

Senior Kathakali exponents of today include Padma Bhushan
Padma Bhushan
The Padma Bhushan is the third highest civilian award in the Republic of India, after the Bharat Ratna and the Padma Vibhushan, but comes before the Padma Shri. It is awarded by the Government of India.-History:...

 Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair
Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair
Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair is one of the most senior performers of Kathakali, having been a grand and sober presence on the art form's stage for a span of over seven decades...

, Padma Shri
Padma Shri
Padma Shri is the fourth highest civilian award in the Republic of India, after the Bharat Ratna, the Padma Vibhushan and the Padma Bhushan...

 Kalamandalam Gopi
Kalamandalam Gopi
Vadakke Manalath Govindan Nair popularly known as Kalamandalam Gopi is a exponent of the classical dance-drama style known as Kathakali...

, Kottakkal Sivaraman
Kottakkal Sivaraman
Kottakkal Sivaraman was an acclaimed performing artiste who revolutionised the portrayal of female roles in Kathakali, the classical dance-drama from Kerala in southern India...

, Madavoor Vasudevan Nair
Madavoor Vasudevan Nair
Madavoor Vasudevan Nair is a veteran Kathakali artiste and one of the last practitioners of the pristine south Kerala-style Kapplingadu school of the classical dance-drama from the south Indian state....

, Chemancheri Kunhiraman Nair, Kottakkal Krishnankutty Nair, Mankompu Sivasankara Pillai
Mankompu Sivasankara Pillai
Mankompu Sivasankara Pillai, of Kerala in south India, is a reputed Kathakali artiste of the classical dance-drama's southern style. Noted for his consummate depiction of pachcha, kathi and minukku roles, he is a disciple of late maestro Chenganoor Raman Pillai.Born in Mankompu of Kuttanad belt in...

, Sadanam Krishnankutty
Sadanam Krishnankutty
Sadanam Krishnankutty is a popular Kathakali exponent reputed for his skill in donning a wide range of characters of the classical dance-drama from Kerala in south India. A native of Cherpulassery in Palakkad district, the 1942-born Krishnankutty is primarily a frontline disciple of the late...

, Nelliyode Vasudevan Namboodiri
Nelliyode Vasudevan Namboodiri
Nelliyode Vasudevan Namboodiri or Nelliyod Vasudevan Namboodiri is a Kathakali artiste noted primarily for his vibrant portrayal of the villainous chuvanna thaadi roles of the classical dance-drama from Kerala in south India...

, Kalamandalam Vasu Pisharody
Kalamandalam Vasu Pisharody
Kalamandalam Vasu Pisharody is a leading Kathakali artiste known for his restrained portrayal of character roles in the classical dance-drama of Kerala in south India. A frontline disciple of Padma Shri Vazhenkada Kunchu Nair, he excels in virtuous pachcha, anti-hero Kathi and the semi-realistic...

, FACT Padmanabhan, Kottakkal Chandrasekharan
Kottakkal Chandrasekharan
Kottakkal Chandrasekharan is a senior Kathakali artiste known for his portrayal of the virtuous pachcha and anti-heroic Kathi roles in the classical dance-drama from Kerala in south India....

, Margi Vijayakumar
Margi Vijayakumar
Margi Vijayakumar is a noted Kathakali artiste who has specialised in female roles in the classical dance-drama from Kerala, south India. A prominent disciple of the late Padma Shri Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair, he has gained name in his poised handling of Purana characters like Damayanti, Panchali,...

, Kottakkal Nandakumaran Nair, Vazhenkada Vijayan
Vazhenkada Vijayan
Vazhenkada Vijayan is a senior Kathakali exponent and a retired principal of Kerala Kalamandalam, the performing art institute where he was trained in the classical dance-drama from Kerala in southern India...

, Inchakkattu Ramachandran Pillai, Kalamandalam Kuttan, Mayyanad Kesavan Namboodiri, Mathur Govindan Kutty, Narippatta Narayanan Namboodiri, Chavara Parukutty, Thonnakkal Peethambaran, Sadanam Balakrishnan, Kalanilayam Gopalakrishnan, Chirakkara Madhavankutty, Sadanam K. Harikumaran
Sadanam K. Harikumaran
Sadanam K. Harikumaran is a versatile artiste from Kerala in south India, known for his engagements with Indian classical dances and music, besides painting, sculpting and literature.-Early Life:...

, Thalavadi Aravindan, Kalanilayam Balakrishnan, Pariyanampatta Divakaran, Kottakkal Kesavan, Kalanilayam Gopi and Kudamaloor Muralikrishnan. The late titan actor-dancers of Kathakali's modern age (say, since the 1930s) include Pattikkamthodi Ravunni Menon
Pattikkamthodi Ravunni Menon
Pattikkamthodi Ravunni Menon was a pivotal figure in the history of Kathakali, having played a crucial role in remoulding and refining its grammar in the famed Kalluvazhi tradition of the classical dance-drama from Kerala in south India...

, Chenganoor Raman Pillai
Chenganoor Raman Pillai
Guru Chenganoor Raman Pillai, also spelt Chengannur Raman Pillai, was a celebrated Kathakali artiste from Kerala in south India...

, Chandu Panicker, Thakazhi Guru Kunchu Kurup
Guru Kunchu Kurup
Guru Kunchu Kurup was one of the most famous Kathakali artistes to have born and celebrated in south Kerala, and gained popularity in central and north Kerala as well....

, Padma Shri Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair
Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair
Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair was one of the most renowned Kathakali artists of any time, and arguably the greatest in the history of the four-century-old classical dance-drama from Kerala in southern India...

, Padma Shri Vazhenkada Kunchu Nair
Vazhenkada Kunchu Nair
Vazhenkada Kunchu Nair, also spelt Kunju Nair, was a prominent Kathakali exponent of the 20th century and the first principal of Kerala Kalamandalam, the premier performing arts institute of Kerala in south India....

, Kavalappara Narayanan Nair
Kavalappara Narayanan Nair
Kavalappara Narayanan Nair was a prominent 20th-century Kathakali artiste and tutor who specialised in the Hanuman roles of the classical dance-drama from Kerala in south India....

, Kurichi Kunhan Panikkar, Thekkinkattil Ramunni Nair, Padma Shri Keezhpadam Kumaran Nair
Keezhpadam Kumaran Nair
Keezhpadam Kumaran Nair was one of the most revolutionary Kathakali artistes in the history of the classical dance-drama from Kerala, India...

, Kalamandalam Padmanabhan Nair
Kalamandalam Padmanabhan Nair
Kalamandalam Padmanabhan Nair was an eminent Kathakali exponent, equally known for his capacities as a tutor, theoretician and author of a few authentic texts on the classical dance-drama from Kerala in south India....

, Mankulam Vishnu Namboodiri, Oyur Kochu Govinda Pillai, Vellinezhi Nanu Nair, Padma Shri Kavungal Chathunni Panikkar, Kudamaloor Karunakaran Nair
Kudamaloor Karunakaran Nair
Kudamaloor Karunakaran Nair was a pioneering Kathakali artiste who brought to prominence female characters in the classical dance-drama from Kerala in south India....

, Kannan Pattali, Pallippuram Gopalan Nair, Harippad Ramakrishna Pillai, Champakkulam Pachu Pillai, Chennithala Chellappan Pillai, Guru Mampuzha Madhava Panicker
Guru Mampuzha Madhava Panicker
Guru Mampuzha Madhava Panicker was a traditional Kathakali dancer and instructor. He was the former principal of the Kerala Kalamandalam University of Art and Culture in Cheruthuruthi in Kerala State in India. Panicker was of the Kalluvazhi school of Kathakali.-Biography:He was born in...

, and Vaikkom Karunakaran.

Kathakali is still hugely a male domain but, since the 1970s, females too have made entry into the art form on a recognisable scale. The central Kerala temple town of Tripunithura has, in fact, a ladies troupe (with members belonging to several part of the state) that performs Kathakali, by and large in Travancore
Travancore
Kingdom of Travancore was a former Hindu feudal kingdom and Indian Princely State with its capital at Padmanabhapuram or Trivandrum ruled by the Travancore Royal Family. The Kingdom of Travancore comprised most of modern day southern Kerala, Kanyakumari district, and the southernmost parts of...

.

Kathakali styles


Known as Sampradäyaṃ; these are leading Kathakali styles that differ from each other in subtleties like choreographic profile, position of hand gestures and stress on dance than drama and vice versa. Some of the major original kathakali styles included:
  1. Vettathu Sampradayam
  2. Kalladikkodan Sampradyam
  3. Kaplingadu Sampradayam


Of late, these have narrowed down to the northern (Kalluvazhi) and southern (Thekkan) styles. It is the highly stylised Kalluvazhi tradition (largely developed by the legendary Pattikkamthodi Ravunni Menon
Pattikkamthodi Ravunni Menon
Pattikkamthodi Ravunni Menon was a pivotal figure in the history of Kathakali, having played a crucial role in remoulding and refining its grammar in the famed Kalluvazhi tradition of the classical dance-drama from Kerala in south India...

 - 1881-1949) that is implemented in Kerala Kalamandalam
Kerala Kalamandalam
Kerala Kalamandalam , lately renamed as Kalamandalam Deemed University of Art and Culture, is a major centre for learning Indian performing arts, especially those that developed in the southern state of India, with the special emphasis on Kerala. It is situated in the village of Cheruthuruthy in...

 (though it has also a department that teaches the southern style), Sadanam, RLV and Kottakkal. Margi has its training largely based on the Thekkan style, known for its stress on drama
Drama
Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action" , which is derived from "to do","to act" . The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a...

 and part-realistic techniques. Kalanilayam, effectively, churns out students with a mix of both styles.

Other forms of dance and offshoots


Kerala Natanam
Kerala Natanam
Kerala Natanam is a new style of dance that is now recognised as a distinct art form evolved from Kathakali a form of Indian dance-drama...

 is a kind of dance form, partly based on Kathakali techniques and aesthetics, developed and stylised by the late dancer Guru Gopinath
Guru Gopinath
Guru Gopinath was an Indian classical dancer, Kathakali master and mentor of a relatively new creative modern dancing style called Kerala Natanam. - Significance :...

 in the mid-20th century. Kathakali also finds portrayal in Malayalam feature films like Vanaprastham, Parinayam
Parinayam
Parinayam is a Malayalam–language film directed by Hariharan and written by M. T. Vasudevan Nair. The key characters are played by Mohini, Vineeth and Manoj.K.Jayan...

, Marattam, and Rangam. Besides documentary films have also been shot on Kathakali artistes like Chenganoor Raman Pillai, Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair, Keezhpadam Kumaran Nair, Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair, Kalamandalam Gopi and Kottakkal Sivaraman.

As for fictional literature, Kathakali finds mention in several Malayalam short stories like Karmen (by N.S. Madhavan) and novels like Keshabharam (by P.V. Sreevalsan). Even the Indo-Anglian work like Arundhati Roy
Arundhati Roy
Arundhati Roy is an Indian novelist. She won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel, The God of Small Things, and has also written two screenplays and several collections of essays...

's Booker prize-winning The God of Small Things
The God of Small Things
The God of Small Things is the debut novel of Indian author Arundhati Roy. It is a story about the childhood experiences of fraternal twins whose lives are destroyed by the "Love Laws" that lay down "who should be loved, and how. And how much." The book is a description of how the small things in...

 has a chapter on Kathakali, while, of late, Anita Nair
Anita Nair
Anita Nair is a popular Indian-English writer. She was born at Mundakottakurissi, near Shornur in Kerala State.A bestselling author of fiction and poetry, her novels The Better Man and Ladies Coupe have been translated in to 21 languages. She was educated in Chennai before returning to...

's novel, Mistress, is entirely wrapped in the ethos of Kathakali.

Similar musical theater is popular in Kasaragod
Kasaragod
Kasaragod is a town and a municipality in Kasaragod district in the Indian state of Kerala. It is the administrative headquarters of Kasaragod district as well as of Kasaragod Taluk...

 and the coastal and Malenadu regions of Karnataka, viz. Yakshagana
Yakshagana
Yakshagana is a musical theater popular in the coastal and Malenadu regions of Karnataka, India. Yakshagana is the recent scholastic name for what are known as kēḷike, āṭa, bayalāṭa, bayalāṭa, daśāvatāra . It is believed to have evolved from pre-classical music and theatre during Bhakti movement...

. Though Yakshagana
Yakshagana
Yakshagana is a musical theater popular in the coastal and Malenadu regions of Karnataka, India. Yakshagana is the recent scholastic name for what are known as kēḷike, āṭa, bayalāṭa, bayalāṭa, daśāvatāra . It is believed to have evolved from pre-classical music and theatre during Bhakti movement...

 resembles Kathakali in terms of its costume and makeup to an extent, Yakshagana
Yakshagana
Yakshagana is a musical theater popular in the coastal and Malenadu regions of Karnataka, India. Yakshagana is the recent scholastic name for what are known as kēḷike, āṭa, bayalāṭa, bayalāṭa, daśāvatāra . It is believed to have evolved from pre-classical music and theatre during Bhakti movement...

 is markedly different from Kathakali as it involves dialogues and method acting
Method acting
Method acting is a phrase that loosely refers to a family of techniques used by actors to create in themselves the thoughts and emotions of their characters, so as to develop lifelike performances...

 also, wherein philosophical debates are also possible within framework of the character.

Kottayam thamburan's way of presenting kathakali was later known as Kallikkoden sambradayam. Chathu Paniker,the introducer of Kallikkoden Sambrathayam, stayed in Kottayam for five years with Kottayam Thamburan's residence and practiced Kallikkoden Sambrathayam. Then he returned to his home place. After a short period Chathu Paniker reached Pulapatta as instructed by Kuthiravattath nair. That was around the year ME 865. Many deciples from Kadathanadu, Kurumbra nadu, Vettathu nadu, Palakkadu and Perumpadappu studied kathakali(Kallikkoden Sambrathayam ) By that time Chathu Paniker was an old man. Some years later he died from Pulapatta.

Noted Kathakali villages and belts


There are certain pockets in Kerala that have given birth to many Kathakali artistes over the years. If they can be called Kathakali villages (or some of them, these days, towns), here are some of them: Vellinezhi
Vellinezhi
Vellinezhi is a small but culturally crucial village located in Palakkad district of Kerala in southern India. The sylvan, rugged land is located on the banks of the Kunti, a slender rivulet that forms tributary to the broad, west-flowing Bharatapuzha that criss-crosses central Kerala in southern...

, Kuruvattoor, Karalmanna
Karalmanna
Karalmanna is a south Indian village in the erstwhile state of Valluvanad along the banks of the Thootha, a tributary of the river Nila in Palakkad district of Kerala...

, Cherpulassery, Kothachira
Kothachira
Kothachira is a village in central Kerala, southern India. The village is located in border of Thrissur and Palakkad districts and is also known as Kothara....

, peringode, sreekrishnapuram
Sreekrishnapuram
Sreekrishnapuram is a small village near Cherpulassery in Palakkad District of Kerala State, South India. The village was once the seat of Nedunganad Rulers. Later on Eralpad Raja, the second Raja of Zamoorin defeated the Nedungadies and annexed it to their principality.- Language & Religion :The...

 Kongad
Kongad
Kongad is a medium-sized town in Palakkad district in the South Indian state of Kerala, and is 20 km north-west of Palakkad town. Nearby towns include Karimpuzha in the west, Mannarakkad in the north, Mundur in the east and Lakkidi and Mankara in the south.The nearest airport is at Coimbatore...

 and Ottapalam
Ottapalam
Ottapalam is a town in Palakkad District of Kerala state in India. It is also the headquarters of Ottapalam taluk. Situated on the banks of the Bharathappuzha river , it has a rich cultural heritage and has played host to many historic events. It is famous for having several films shot here...

 in Palakkad
Palakkad
Palakkad , formerly known as Palghat, is a municipality and a town in the state of Kerala in southern India, spread over an area of 26.60 km2.The city is situated about north of state capital Thiruvananthapuram. It is the administrative headquarters of Palakkad District...

 district, Vazhenkada
Vazhenkada
Vazhenkada is a village, known for its Kathakali heritage, on the banks of the river Thootha in Malappuram district of Kerala in southern India...

 in Malappuram
Malappuram
Malappuram is a municipality in the South Indian state of Kerala, spread over an area of 33.61 km2. It serves as the administrative headquarters of Malappuram district. As per the 2011 census Malappuram urban agglomeration is the fourth largest UA in kerala with a total population of...

 district, Thichur or Tichoor, Guruvayur
Guruvayur
Guruvayur is a municipal town in Thrissur District, of Kerala State in India. It houses the famous Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple, the fourth biggest temple in India in terms of the number of devotees per day.-History:Guruvayur, according to the legends may be 5,000 years old as the Guruvayur...

, Thiruvilwamala
Thiruvilwamala
Thiruvilwamala, also spelt Thiruvilluamala, is a hilly village in the northern terrain of Thrissur district of Kerala state in southern India.The village, which is more of a temple town, is located on the banks of the Bharathapuzha river, with nearest towns being Shoranur and Ottappalam. The place...

 and Irinjalakuda
Irinjalakuda
Irinjalakuda is a municipal town situated in the Thrissur district of Kerala, India. It is famous for the sprawling Koodalmanikyam Temple that has Bharata as the main deity and the St Thomas Cathedral in the heart of the City...

 in Thrissur
Thrissur
This article is about the city in India. For the district, see Thrissur district. For the urban agglomeration area of Thrissur see Thrissur Metropolitan Area...

 district, Tripunithura in Ernakulam
Ernakulam
Ernakulam refers to the downtown area or the western part of the mainland of Kochi city in Kerala, India. The city is the most urban part of Kochi and has lent its name to the Ernakulam district. Ernakulam is called the commercial capital of the state of Kerala and is a main nerve of business in...

 district and Kuttanad
Kuttanad
Kuttanadu is a region in the district of Alappuzha, in the state of Kerala, India, well known for its picturesque vast paddy fields and its geographical peculiarities. It's the region with the lowest altitude in India, and one of the few places in the world where farming is carried out below sea...

 belt in Alappuzha
Alappuzha
Alappuzha , also known as Alleppey, is a town in Alappuzha District of Kerala state of southern India. As per 2001 census Alleppey is the sixth largest city in Kerala with an urban population of 177,029. Alleppey is situated to the south of Kochi and north of Trivandrum...

 district besides places in and around Thiruvanathapuram in south Travancore and Payyannur in north Malabar.

Awards for Kathakali artistes



  • Anurag PAGLU Deb,Won 1st prize at Kalamandir in 2010 March,Kolkata in All India Kathakali exponent meet. His Paglu dance was well appreciated
  • Sangeet Natak Akademi
    Sangeet Natak Akademi
    Sangeet Natak Akademi is the national level academy for performing arts set up by the Government of India.-History:...

     Awardees - Kathakali (1956–2005)
  • Nambeesan Smaraka Awards-- For artistic performances related kathakali{1992-2008}
  • [Debasis Pradhan(botu maharaj),Won award as best kathakali dancer in 2007,kolkata,http://www.botumaharaj.co.in

Kathakali Attams


ATTAMS OR "ELAKI-ATTAMS"

Attams or more specifically "elaki attams" are sequences of acting within a story acted out with the help of
mudras without support from vocal music. The actor has the freedom to change the script to suit his own
individual preferences. The actor will be supported ably by Chenda, Maddalam, and Elathalam(compulsory),
Chengila(not very compulsory).
The following are only some examples. 'Kailasa Udharanam' and 'Tapas Attam' are very important but not described
here (willbe added later). Two of the many references are:

1. 'Kathakali Prakaram'- pages 95 to 142 by Pannisheri Nanu Pillai.

2. 'Kathakaliyile Manodharmangal' by Chavara Appukuttan Pillai.

1. VANA VARNANA - Bhima in Kalyana Saugandhika.
Modern man looks at the forest, indeed the birthplace of primates, with a certain wonder and a certain respect.
Kathakali characters are no exception. When Pandavas were living in the forest, one day, a flower, not seen before,
wafted by the wind, comes and falls at the feet of Panchali. Exhilarated by its beauty and smell, Panchali asks Bhima to bring her more such flowers. To her pleasure Bhima is ready to go at once. But Panchali asks him what he shall do for food and drink on the way. Bhima thinks and says " Food and Drink! Oh, this side glance (look) of your's.
This look of longing. This look of anticipation. The very thought fills me up. I dont need any food and drink at all.
Let me go." He takes his mace and off he goes.
Ulsaham (Enthusiasm ) is his Sdhayi Bhavam (Permanent Feature).
"Let me go at once in search of this flower" says Bhima "The scented wind is blowing from the southern side. Let me go that way". After walking some distance he sees a huge mountain called Gandhamadana, and three ways. He decides to take the middle one which goes over the mountain. After going further "The forest is getting thicker. Big trees, big branches in all directions. The forest looks like a huge dark vessel into which even light can not penetrate.
This is my (Bhima's) way. Nothing can hinder me" . So saying he pulls down many trees. Sometimes he shatters the trees with his mace. Suddenly he sees an elephant. "Oh! Elephant". He describes it. Its trunck. Sharp ears.
The itching sensation in the body. It takes some mud and throws on the body. Oh good. Then it sucks water and throws on the body. Somewhat better. Slowly it starts dosing even though alert at times. A very huge python is approaching steadily. Suddenly it catches hold of the elephant's hind leg. The elephant wakes up and tries to disengage the python.
The python pulls to one side. The elephant kicks and drags to the other side. This goes on for some time.
Bhima looks to the other side where a hungry lion is looking for food. It comes running and strikes the elephants head and eats part of the brain and goes off. The python completes the rest .
"Oh my god, how ruthless!" says Bhima and proceeds on his way.

2. UDYANA VARNANA - Nala in Nalacharitham 2nd day
Descriptions of Gardens are found in most dance forms of India and Abroad. These are also common in Kathakali.
Newly married Nala and Damayanthi are walking in the garden. When Nala was lovingly looking at Damayanthi a flower falls on Damayanthi. Nala is overjoyed and thinks that this is a kindness nature has shown on his wife.
Nala says " On seeing the arrival of their queen, the trees and climbers are showing happiness by dropping flowers on you." He tells her " See that tree. When I used to be alone the tree used to hug the climber and seemingly laugh at my condition". Then he looks at the tree and says " Dear Tree, Look at me now. See how fortunate I am with my beautiful wife."
Both wander about. A bumble bee flies towards Damayanthi. Immediately Nala protects her face with a kerchief.
He looks at the bee and then at Damayanthi. He says " On seeing your face the bee thought it was a flower and came to drink the nector."
Nala and Damayanthi listen to the various sounds coming out of the garden. Damayanti says " It appears that the whole garden is thrilled. The flowers are blooming and smiling. Cuckoos are singing and the bees are dancing.
Gentle winds are blowing and rubbing against our bodies. How beautiful the whole garden looks." Then Nala says that the sun is going down and it is time for them to go back and takes her away.

3. SHABDA VARNANA - Hanuman in Kalyana Saugandhikam
While Bhima goes in search of the flower, here Hanuman is sitting doing Tapas with mind concentrated on Sri Rama.
When he hears the terrible noises made by Bhima in the forest he feels disturbed in doing his Tapas. He thinks "What is the reason for this?". Then the sounds become bigger. "What is this?" he thinks "The sounds are getting bigger. Such a terrible noise. Is the sea coming up thinking that the time is ripe for the great deluge(Pralaya).
Birds are flying helter - skelter. Trees look shocked. Even Kali Yuga is not here. Then what is it ?
Are mountains quarreling with each other? No, That cant be it. Indra had cut off the wings of mountains so that they don't quarrel. Is the sea changing its position? No it cant be. The sea has promised it will not change its position again. It cant break the promise."
Hanuman starts looking for clues. "I see elephants and lions running in fear of somebody. Oh a huge man is coming this way. Oh, a hero is coming. He is pulling out trees and throwing it here and there. Okay. Let him come near, We will see."

4. THANDEDATTAM - Ravana in Bali Vadham
After his theranottam Ravana is seen sitting on a stool. He says to himself " I am enjoying a lot of happiness.
What is the reason for this?" Thinks. " Yes I know it. I did Tapas to Brahma and received all necessary boons.
Afterwards I won all ten directions. I also defeated my elder brother Vaishravana. Then I lifted Kailas mountain when Siva and Parvathi were having a misunderstanding. Parvathi got frightened and embraced Siva in fear.
Siva was so happy he gave a divine sword called Chandrahasa. Now the whole world is afraid of me. That is why I am enjoying so much happiness. " He goes and sits on the stool. He looks far away. " Who is coming from a distance. he is coming fast. Oh it is Akamba. Okay. Let me find out what news he has for me."

5. ASHRAMA VARNA - Arjuna in Kiratham
Arjuna wants to do Tapas to Lord Siva and he is looking a suitable place in the Himalayan slopes.
He comes to place where there is an Ashram. Arjuna looks closely at the place. " Oh. What a beautiful place this is. A small river in which a very pure water is flowing. Some hermits are takimng bath in the river.
Some hermits are standing in the water and doing Tapsas. Some are facing the Sun. Some are standing in between five fires. Arjuna salutes the Hermits from far. Arjuna says to himself " Look at this young one of a deer. It is looking for its mother. It seems to be hungry and thirsty. Nearby a female tiger is feeding its young ones. The little deer goes towards the tigress and pushes the young tiger cubs aside and starts drinking milk from the Tigress. The Tigress looks lovingly at the young deer and even licks its body as if it were its own child.
How beautiful. How fulfilling."
Again he looks " Here on this side a mongoose and a serpent forgetting their enemity are hugging each other.
Thisplace is really strange and made divine by saints and hermits. Let me start my Tapas somewhere nearby."
A sloka called "Shikhini Shalabha" can also be selected instead of the above if time permits.

6. AN ATTAM BASED ON A SLOKA
Sansrit slokas are sometimes shown in mudras and it has a pleasing and exhilarating effect. Different actors use slokas as per his own taste and liking. However the slokas are taught to students during their training period.
An example is given below.
Sloka:
Kusumo Kusumolpatti Shrooyathena Chathushyathe
Bale thava Mukhambuje Pashya Neelolpaladwayam
Meaning:
A flower blooming inside another flower is not known to history. But, my dear, in your lotus like face are seen two blue Neelolpala flowers (eyes).

7. A CONVERSATION BASED ON A SLOKA
Sanskrit slokas can also be used to express an intent. One such example is a sloka used by Arjuna addressed to Mathali the charioteer in Kalakeya Vadham.
Sloka:
Pitha: Kushalee Mama hritha Bhujaam
Naatha Sachee Vallabha:
Maatha: kim nu Pralomacha Kushalinee
Soonurjayanthasthayo
Preethim va Kushchate Thadikshnavidhow
Cheta Samutkanuthe
Sutha: tvam Radhamashu Chodaya vayam
Dharmadivam Mathala
Meaning:
The husband of Indrani and the lord of gods my father - Is he in good health? His son Jayantha - Is he strictly following the commands of his father? Oh, I am impatient to see all of them.
8. SWARGA VARNANA -Arjuna in Kalakeya Vadham
Arjuna goes to heaven on the invitation of his father, Indra. After taking permission from Indrani he goes out to see all the places in Swarga. First he sees a building, his father's palace. It is so huge with four entrances. It is made of materials superior to gold and jewels of the world. Then he goes ahead and sees Iravatha. Here he describes it as a huge elephant with four horns. He is afraid to touch it. Then he thinks that animals in Swarga can't be cruel like in the
world and so thinking he goes and touches and salutes Iravatha. He also describes the churning of the white sea by gods and demons with many details and how Iravatha also came out of the white sea due to this churning.
He walks on and sees his father's (Indra's) horse. It is described as being white and its mane is sizzling like the waves of the white sea from which it came. He touches and salutes the horse also. Then he goes to see the river of the sky (or milky way). He sees many birds by this river and how the birds fly and play is also shown.
Then he sees the heavenly ladies. Some are collecting flowers, and one of them comes late and asks for some flowers for making garland. The others refuse. She goes to the Kalpa Vriksha and says 'please give me some flowers'.
Immediately a shower of flowers occurs which she collects in her clothes and goes to make garlands chiding the others
"See.. I also got flowers".
After this he sees the music and dance of the heavenly ladies. First it starts with the adjustments of various instruments
Thamburu, Mridangam, Veena and then the actual music starts along with the striking of cymbols. Then two or three types of dances are shown.
Then comes juggling of balls.
It is described by a sloka thus:
Sloka:

Ekopi Thraya Iva Bhathi Kandukoyam
Kanthayaa: Karathala Raktharaktha:
Abhrastho Nayanamareechi Neelaneelo
Bhumau Talcharana Naghamshu Gaurgaura:
Meaning:
One ball looks like three balls. When it is in the hands of the juggler, it takes the redness of the hands, when it
goes up it takes the blueness of the eyes, when it strikes the ground it becomes white from the whiteness of the leg nails.
Once a juggled ball falls down. Then she, the juggler, somehow manages to proceed and remarks "See.. how I can do it".
At one time a garment slips from a lady's body and she adjusts the cloth showing shameful shyness (Lajja).
Then the ladies go in for a Kummi dance.
As Arjuna was enjoying this dance, suddenly somebody calls him. Arjuna feels scared. 'Oh God, where am I?' he says,
and then he beats a hasty retreat.

Prominent Artists and SNA Awardees

  1. P. K. Kunju Kurup 1956
  2. Thotton K. Chandu Panikkar 1958
  3. Thekinkatti Ramunni Nair 1961
  4. Chengannur Raman Pillai 1963
  5. Gopi Nath 1965
  6. Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair 1967
  7. Kurichi Kunjan Panickar 1968
  8. V. Kunchu Nair 1969
  9. M. Vishnu Namboodiri 1970
  10. K. Karunakaran Nayar 1971
  11. M. Madhava Panicker 1972
  12. Velinezhi K. Nanu Nayar 1973
  13. Kavungal Chathunni Panicker 1973
  14. T. T. Ramankutty Nair 1974
  15. K. Sankarankutty Panicker 1975
  16. K. C. Parameswaran Pillai “Champakulam Pachu Pillai” 1983
  17. Mankompu Sivasankara Pillai 1985
  18. Kalamandalam Gopi 1987
  19. Keezhpatam Kumaran Nair 1988
  20. Oyoor Kochugovinda Pillai 1989
  21. Chennithala Chellapan Pillai 1991
  22. Kalamandalam Padmanabhan Nair 1993
  23. Kottakkal Krishnan Kutty Nair 1996
  24. Madavoor Vasudevan Nair 1997
  25. Kottakkal Sivaraman 1998
  26. Nelliyodu Vasudevan Namboodiri 1999-2000
  27. Sadanam P. V. Balakrishnan 2003
  28. Kalamandalam Vasu Pisharody 2004
  29. Mathoor Govindam Kutty 2005
  30. Kottakkal Chandra Sekharan 2006
  31. Sadanam Krishnan Kutty 2007
  32. Kalamandalam Kuttan 2008
  33. Kalamandalam Rajan 2009
  34. Kalamandalam K. G. Vasudevan 2010

See also

  • Classical Indian dance
    Classical Indian dance
    Indian classical dance is a relatively new umbrella term for various codified art forms rooted in Natya, the sacred Hindu musical theatre styles, whose theory can be traced back to the Natya Shastra of Bharata Muni .- Definitions :...

  • Arts of Kerala
    Arts of Kerala
    The Indian state of Kerala is well known for its diverse forms of performing arts. The various communities in Kerala contribute to its rich and colorful culture.-Hindu Arts:* Kathakali* Koodiyattom* Theyyam* Thira* Theeyaattam * Mohiniyattam...

  • Yakshagana
    Yakshagana
    Yakshagana is a musical theater popular in the coastal and Malenadu regions of Karnataka, India. Yakshagana is the recent scholastic name for what are known as kēḷike, āṭa, bayalāṭa, bayalāṭa, daśāvatāra . It is believed to have evolved from pre-classical music and theatre during Bhakti movement...

  • Mohiniyattam
  • Koodiyattam
    Koodiyattam
    Koodiyattam or Kutiyattam is a form of Sanskrit theatre traditionally performed in the state of Kerala, India. Performed in the Sanskrit language in Hindu temples, it is believed to be 2,000 years old...

  • Nātyakalpadrumam
    Natyakalpadrumam
    Nātyakalpadrumam is a book written by Nātyāchārya Vidūshakaratnam Padma Shri Guru Māni Mādhava Chākyār about all aspects of ancient Sanskrit drama theatre tradition of Kerala- Kutiyattam...

  • Ottamthullal
    Ottamthullal
    Ottamthullal or Ottanthullal is a type of performing art from Kerala, India. The art form was created during the 18th century by legendary Malayalam poet Kalakkaththu Kunchan Nambiar...

  • Theyyam
    Theyyam
    Theyyam or Theyyattam or Thira is a popular Hindu ritual form of worship of North Malabar in Kerala state, India, predominant in the Kolathunadu area Theyyam or Theyyattam or Thira is a popular Hindu ritual form of worship of North Malabar in Kerala state, India, predominant in the Kolathunadu...

  • Kabuki
    Kabuki
    is classical Japanese dance-drama. Kabuki theatre is known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by some of its performers.The individual kanji characters, from left to right, mean sing , dance , and skill...

  • Panchavadyam
    Panchavadyam
    Panchavadyam, literally meaning an orchestra of five instruments, is basically a temple art form that has evolved in Kerala. Of the five instruments, four -- timila, maddalam, ilathalam and idakka -- belong to the percussion category, while the fifth one, kombu, is a wind instrument.Much like any...

  • Māni Mādhava Chākyār
    Mani Madhava Chakyar
    Guru Mani Madhava Chakyar was a celebrated master performance artist and Sanskrit scholar from Kerala, South India, considered to be the greatest Chakyar Koothu and Koodiyattam artist and authority of modern times...

  • Kerala Kalamandalam
    Kerala Kalamandalam
    Kerala Kalamandalam , lately renamed as Kalamandalam Deemed University of Art and Culture, is a major centre for learning Indian performing arts, especially those that developed in the southern state of India, with the special emphasis on Kerala. It is situated in the village of Cheruthuruthy in...

  • Gandhi Seva Sadan
    Gandhi Seva Sadan
    Gandhi Seva Sadan, or simply Sadanam, is a Kathakali institution located in Perur village, some 12 kilometres east of Ottapalam in Palakkad district of north-central Kerala in southern India. It was founded in 1953 by the Gandhian and freedom fighter K...

  • Kerala Folklore Akademi
    Kerala Folklore Akademi
    Kerala Folklore Akademi is an autonomous corporate body constituted by the Government of Kerala on 28 June 1995 under the Cultural Affairs Department, Government of Kerala...

  • Panchari Melam
    Panchari melam
    Panchari Melam is a percussion ensemble, canonically lasting more than four hours, performed during temple festivals in Kerala, India. Panchari Melam , is one of the major forms of chenda melam , and is the best-known and most popular kshetram vadyam genre...

  • Pandi Melam
    Pandi Melam
    Pandi melam is a classical percussion concert or melam led by the ethnic Kerala instrument called the chenda and accompanied by ilathalam , kuzhal and Kombu....

  • Thayambaka
    Thayambaka
    Thayambaka or tayambaka is a type of solo chenda performance that developed in the south Indian state of Kerala, in which the main player at the centre improvises rhythmically on the beats of half-a-dozen or a few more chenda and ilathalam players around.A thayambaka performance on the chenda has...


External links