Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Thullal Dance

Thullal is a popular dance form of Kerala and was founded by poet Kalakkaththu Kunchan Nambiar
in the 18th century. The legend goes that one day when Nambiar was playing Mizhavu for a Chakyar Koothu show, dozed off in the center of the presentation, thus appealing laughter from the Chakyar. The shamed Nambiar pledged to come up with a different art form to Chakyar Koothu, and made up up a Thullal show that also made enjoyment of widespread socio political equations and discrimination in the area. The word Thullal means to ‘capper’ or to ‘laugh and jump playfully’. It is a dance form which is rare with its straightforwardness in presentation and humour.


Thullal is a singly performance pooled with both dance and narration, the song recited is a illumination of tale which is usually pinched from the Puranas, narrated in verse. The performer begins the narration of the verse and is supported by another singer who repeats the verses and together they are accompanied by the musicians. The several musical instruments used in this performance are; harmonium, mridangam, cymbals. There are three types of Thullal namely; Ottan Thullal, Seethankan Thullal, Parayan Thullal. The performance of Thullal is divided into three different forms according to basis of make-up, styles of narrative singing, rhythms and movements of dancing and foot work.

Ottan Thullal: This form of Thullal is the most popular one and represents Mahavishnu. It is a combination of the humorous elements of Koothu with the steps and gestures of Kathakali. This style includes of a multiplicity of quick meters finely matched for humorous narratives and is energetic in implementation. The Thullal artist who performs this art form wears a mesmerizing costume and face is decorated with green colour. Along with singing and dancing to the music of cymbals, the performer acts the events narrated in the songs. It is also known as poor man’s Kathakali because of its huge appeal.

Seethankan Thullal: It has meters of average tempo for the songs used and beat to suit. The face of this dancer is unpainted except for the black lines in eyebrows and eyelids which are painted black for increasing the allurement of their eyes. The performer wears a black cloth tied tightly round their head and is encircled with a leaves of a coconut palm as a crown and trimmings of the same objects decorate their wrist.

Parayan Thullal: This style of Thullal has the slowest of narration with slow elegant body movements. The make-up of this performer is simple except for a headdress of a serpent cover and red cloth round his waist. The dancer covers the body with charcoal adhesive and wears ghungru (circlet of bells) on one of his leg. In this the dancer stands straight and details the meaning of the song by gestures.

The emotions include mainly valour, anger, devotion, pathos and humour. After Kunchan Nambiar many poets tried to attempt the Thullal poetry, there are about 100 of poetries/narration but out of them only ten are prevalent and narrated while performing Thullal which were introduced by Kunchan Nambiar. They stand as a favourite among the performers as well as the audiences.

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