There is something about Kerala and Malayali that seems to foster virtuosity from intricate and exquisite art forms, to ancient and complex science, the state boasts excellence in range of indigenous fields, and always conquered the flusters of genius.
Performing arts in Kerala have traditions with a long history. Some of the ancient classical arts such as Chakayar Koothu, Nangiar koothu, and Koodiyattam were staged only in special theatres which are out of reach to lower casts. Natyasastram,a classical text book by Bharathamuni, infact translated the art of language to all people. For a visitor watching Kerala’s vibrant performing arts is a memorable lesson in colors and form, technique and artistry, ritual and tradition.
The most celebrated artform of Kerala , were performed in the 13th century onwards. Kathakali is the art form modified from of Ramanattam,invented dance form Raja of Kotarakara to counter the influence of Krishnanattam of Zamorin, Calicut, Kathakali is much modified version of Ramanattam since the later has lavish costumes and head wear were introduced. The heavy costumes, elaborate makes ups, heavily lined eyes and stiff chutti in the artistes face serve to draw attention to his all important facial expressions during the performance. Kathakali continues to be a universal symbol of the state’s artistic expression.
This classical dance form is a marvelous blend of pure dance (nritham) and expository dance (nrithya) besides instruments like flute, violin, veena, local instruments like mridangam and edaccka provide the musical accomplishment along with vocalists who perform carnatic music as well the applied elements of sopanasangeetham, the traditional music of Kerala.
The beautiful gold jewelry and most popular costumes like cream colored pleated two piece sari, bordered with gold and highly sophisticated eye expression make the Mohiniyattam visually pleasing art form that even the lay person can enjoy.
Koodiyattam and Chakyar Koothu
The 2000 years old art form is in oral theatre and oldest of the Indian performing arts.
Chakyar Kooth is the narrative art and the ‘Chakyar’ first chants the verses in Sanskrit and then narrate the story in Malayalam. The Chakyar is a satirist par excellence, occasionally even mimicking the character in a tongue-in-check manner, switching voices and adopting gestures appropriate to each role, and often drawing social parallels between puranic tales and modern life.
In Koodyiattam, whole Chakyars perform the role of a male characters, background music is provided on the percussion instrument mizhauv and the female roles are enacted by a female artist, make Koodiyattom has been recognized by UNESCO as an illustrious example of manifestation of the heritage of human culture.