Renu Ramanath

KOCHI: Every art form needs its own set of specialised viewers or listeners. The sustaining, development and evolution of the art form is made possible only through the active interaction and cooperation between its practitioners and these well-informed aficionados. The form receives energy for its development through the critical intervention of these connoisseurs.

However, such well-tuned viewers will never rise out of the blue. They need to be cultivated and educated. The responsibility of any individual or group working for the betterment of any art form does not end with offering platforms for the performers. Creating generations of intelligent viewers is also an important part of their functioning.

Taking upon this responsibility, the Ernakulam Kathakali Club has been organising Kathakali Appreciation Courses. So far, the club had organised three such courses and the fourth one is on at the Kerala Fine Arts Hall.

The course, organised by the Kathakali Club in association with the Kerala Fine Arts Society, began on Saturday with a simple inaugural function. V.N. Venugopal, president of the Kerala Fine Arts Society lighted the traditional lamp marking the beginning of the course. Kathakali Club president A.D. Krishnan Asan honoured Kalamandalam Kesavan with a `ponnada.'

The directors of the seven-day course are C.P. Unnikrishnan and Kalamandalam Kesavan. Between them, Mr. Unnikrishnan and Mr. Kesavan have designed a compact package offering a comprehensive introduction and overview of the fundamental aspects of Kathakali.

Mr. Unnikrishnan, in his introductory speech, dwelled on the need for such appreciation courses to ensure the sustenance of the art form. He said that considering the opinions that have come up following the earlier courses, this time they were planning to include more information on the musical aspects of Kathakali.

Since no speaking is involved in Kathakali unlike in Kudiyattam, its `vaachika abhinaya,' is made up of the accompanying music, both vocal and percussion. However, Mr. Unnikrishnan said they were not intending to refer any of the contentious points regarding Kathakali music. The course began with an introduction to the 24 mudras used in Kathakali, as stipulated in the classical treatise, `Hasthalakshanadeepika,' that forms the basis of the classical art forms of Kerala. The mudras will be demonstrated by an actor accompanied by the corresponding body movements.