Music

The forgotten arts of Kerala

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Sargam 2019 presents precious art forms from Kerala that are slowly dying out

The heroics of French emperor Charlemagne and his consorts, who ruled in the 8th Century, told in the form of Chavittu Natakam, an ancient form of operatic theatre. And, a traditional folk dance, Gothra Nrutham, performed by men from the Aadiyar community in Wayanad, where moving in circles to the accompaniment of wind and percussion instruments, is believed to spread festivity. Nestled within Kerala’s hamlets and specific to certain communities, such art forms, often fail to spread their wings outside the State. Which is why, Sargam 2019, an art and literary festival organised by Aasrayam and Asan Memorial Association, concentrates on such forgotten arts from the region. The three-day event brings varied genres of performing arts to the city and initiates a dialogue regarding the same through discussions.

“We are trying to bring art forms that are slowly disappearing even from the villages of Kerala and subsequently from our eyes,” P A Suresh Kumar, general convenor of the fest that runs parallel to the Margazhi season. Captained by eminent figures in the performing arts and literary scene of Kerala, the fest will showcase a variety of performances, talks, discussions and exhibitions spread over three days. “The play Avanavan Kadamba, which we present, tells the common man’s story and imparts important messages,” continues Suresh. He adds that the works of theatre doyen, the late Kavalam Narayana Panicker, will be brought alive on stage in this edition.

Speaking of the exhibition that will celebrate 100 years (1919-2019) of Malayalam cartoons that have conveyed strong socio-political statements over the years, Suresh says, “It was Vidooshakan, a magazine that featured the first Malayalam cartoon by the name Mahashyamadevatha. In Kerala, media had more freedom back then. These cartoons have, in fact, led to changes in the political scenario of the State.” The exhibition will be led by Shila Santhosh, who will also be bringing his collection of old Malayalam cartoons. He is also organising an exhibition of articles that have antique and collectible value, called Nattupacha. A book fair and a display of pencil drawings by artist VS Jayakumar will also happen the same day.

Of folklore and worship

“A family traditionally involved in Pulluvan Pattu, a performance of indigenous folk songs in worship of the snake god, will be singing,” continues Suresh. Apart from this, Nattarang, a folk song performance that will focus on Kerala’s rich heritage of songs that narrate tales of the land, will also feature CJ Kuttapan, the chairman of Kerala Folklore Academy and singer Resmi Satheesh. Vayali Bamboo Orchestra, a folklore group that creates foot-tapping music with indigenous percussion instruments made of bamboo to preserve the Valluvanadan tradition, will perform with mulam chenda, mazha mooli, and mulam thudi while the flute plays the lead instrument.

The past two editions attracted huge crowds. Suresh hopes that this edition does too, with its unique line up which will also includes celebrities. “Our ultimate aim is to get people acquainted with Kerala’s traditions and culture,” he concludes.

Sargam 2019 will be on from January 4 to 6 at Asan Memorial School Auditorium, Anderson Road. For details, call 9444739220.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 11:42:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/the-forgotten-arts-of-kerala/article25872221.ece

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