Dance allows us to feel the beat and fly with the music. It is a powerhouse of all the emotions that flow like water and give our eyes and mind a treat. It has many forms, and each delivers a different wonder. This expressive artform has many branches, and one of them is Kerala’s Dance art, Ottan thullal. This art is a package of words, fun, and more. The way the performers focus on the words and actions is a different sight for the eyes. Ottan thullal involves the audience in the fun ride; it makes the performances more engaging, impactful, and humorous.
Ottan thullal is the combination of storytelling along with singing and dancing. It is an example of a famous proverb, “Old is Gold,” as this performing art is almost 300 years old, created by poet Kunchan Nambiar in the 18th century. The poet Kunchan Nambiar performed this art instead of another similar art called “Chakyar Koothu” as a protest against society’s social, economic, and prejudicated behaviour. It is also a colourful representation of social criticism through humour. The facial expression of the artist and involvement of dance is the main attraction for the viewers.
Ottan Thullal, paryan thullal, and seethagan thullal are the three forms of Thullals. Each Thulllal delivers a different kind of performance. For example, Ottan Thullal’s presentation involves more body movement and a different way of singing than the other two. Also, its costume is considered to be the most attractive one. Mostly, the performances take place outside the temple during religious events.
Art is one of the most dynamic ways to express disapproval and opinion. Kunchan Nambiar used this to convey his disagreement towards biased and illogical social activities. Art is also the most non-violent way to indicate the issue, especially performance art like Ottan Thullal.
“Decorate weapons with art; we might not need to bleed then.“
Aparna G. Ajith