Ottan Thullal : A 300 Year Old Traditional Solo Dance and Drama Art Form from Kerala – History, Types, and the Epic Tale of Garuda Garvabhangam, A Spectacular Ottan Thullal Performance (Updated)
– dance form with vibrant facial expressions, elegant gestures, & intricate footwork
|CasualWalker’s Rating for Garuda Garvabhangam : A Spectacular Ottan Thullal Performance :|
9.9 – Great / Excellent
Ottan Thullal / Ottam Thullal is a 300 years old captivating form of classical dance performing art, from Kerala. It is a visual treat that combines intricate footwork, graceful gestures, and vivid facial expressions. Ottan Thullal (Ottamthullal) is a one-person performance that combines dance, music, acting, and storytelling. The performer takes on all the roles in the story. What makes Thullal special is its humor, satire, and social commentary.
The Ottan Thullal performer – the Thullalkaran, donning the role of the Vidushaka – the wise fool, becomes the intermediary between the audience and the narrative, using humor and wit to convey deeper messages. With intricate footwork and graceful movements, the artist brings to life characters from gods and goddesses to common folk, infusing each gesture with the rasa that defines their emotional state. What sets Ottanthullal apart is the performer’s unique role of both singing and narrating the story, a demanding task, while another individual simultaneously recites the verses.
History of Ottan Thullal
Ottan Thullal’s origins can be traced back to the 18th century, attributed to the illustrious poet and performer Kalakkaththu Kunjan Nambiar (1705-1770). Nambiar used his wit, humor, and keen observations to devise this art form as a means to criticize societal injustices through clever wordplay. He conceived this art form as a means to convey the voice of the common people in an entertaining manner, using a rhythmic dance style accompanied by witty verses.
Types of Thullal
It adheres closely to the principles outlined in the Natya Shastra, authored by Bharatamuni. Among its three variations—Ottanthullal, Seethankan, and Parayan Thullal—Ottanthullal takes the forefront as the most prominent.
Garuda Garvabhangam – Vanquishing of Garuda’s Pride: Ottan Thullal Performance
Garuda Garvabhangam, which comes from the ancient text “Ramanu Charitham”, tells the story of Lord Krishna, one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu known as the Preserver of Life.
In this tale, Krishna decides to teach a lesson to Garuda, the proud King of birds and his carrier. He wants to show Garuda the importance of humility.
Krishna asks Garuda to bring Hanuman to him. Hanuman is a devoted follower of Lord Rama, another incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Hanuman, who is both a monkey god and a skilled warrior, spends his time in the Kadali Groves chanting the name of his beloved master.
When Garuda approaches Hanuman, he understands that Krishna wants to teach Garuda the importance of humility.
Hanuman respectfully declines Garuda’s request. He explains that he cannot go with Garuda because he doesn’t have respect for Krishna. This angers Garuda, and he challenges Hanuman to a fight. But Hanuman, with his strength and wisdom, defeats Garuda, showing him that pride can lead to downfall.
The Ottan Thullal artist, adorned in unique green makeup, and colorful costumes, don unique headgear and ornate jewelry that adds to the charm of the performance.
The rhythmic beats of the accompanying percussion instruments, particularly the melodic sounds of the Mridangam and Idakka percussion instruments infuse life into the stories being narrated, creating an immersive experience for the audience.
Ottan Thullal’s Rasa – Emotions
At the heart of Ottan Thullal lies the concept of “rasa” – a Sanskrit term that translates to “emotion”. The dance form artfully weaves together various rasa’s to convey a vivid spectrum of human feelings.
From the exuberant “Hasya” (humor) to the tender “Sringara” (romantic love), from the fierce “Raudra” (anger) to the contemplative “Bhakti” (devotion), Ottan Thullal paints emotions onto the canvas of the stage with finesse and flair.
Overall Ottan Thullal dance performance, was an enchanting experience that transported us to a world of emotions, storytelling, and cultural richness.
Ottan Thullal Performance by Kalamandalam Shri. Kavitha Geethanandan
Kerala Kalamandalam’s renowned Thullal artist, Shri. Kavitha Geethanandan, delivered a splendid and marvelous Ottan Thullal performance, narrating the story of “Garuda Garvabhangam,” exemplifying the art’s rich tradition and storytelling excellence.
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