Essentially an art form that belonged to the pre-television era, Kathaprasangam has lost out to cinematic dance and mimics parades at the festival grounds it once ruled.

A whole generation grew up with this art of story telling. V. Sambasivan and Kedamangalam Sadanandan once headed the long list of artistes who were ardently followed by fans, and mobbed at festival grounds. Down through the years,

Kathaprasangam has become such an ailing art that many of the younger generation might not have even heard of it.

Essentially an art form that belonged to the pre-television era, Kathaprasangam has lost out to cinematic dance and mimics parades at the festival grounds it once ruled. Now, the Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Akademi is trying to do its bit to render a supporting hand to the flagging art. In a unique move, the Akademi is organising five-day-long Kathaprasangam festivals in five centres across the State.

“The idea is to provide stages for as many artistes and thus revive the art. We are also providing financial support to 10 selected artistes to compose new stories, as one of the oft-repeated complaint is the high cost in composing new stories,” said T.M. Abraham, vice chairman of the Akademi.

The festival at Ernakulam, which followed the ones at Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam, was inaugurated at Changampuzha Park, Edappally, here on Wednesday.

N. Venugopal, chairman of the Greater Cochin Development Authority, inaugurated the festival. All the speakers at the inaugural session stressed on the need for Kathaprasangam to adapt to the new age.

The art form, which was once used with great effect to spread social and political messages across different strata of the society, is presently restricted to youth festival competitions. After Ernakulam, the Akademi will organise a similar festival at Thrissur and Palakkad.

“The Akademi is planning to make this an annual affair with regular festivals during every July,” said Mr. Abraham.

So it is now up to the artistes presenting their stories at the five-day festival to revive the magic of storytelling.

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