New vistas in Tholpavakoothu

(Palakkad): The temple at Koonathara was empty but for half-a-dozen students who had come here to research Kerala’s unique puppet theatre, Tholpavukoothu. The performance was on in full swing, and lasted the entire night. The show was on the mythological tale of Lord Rama waging war against Ravana.

“The response of the village towards this art form is lukewarm. Äfter all, it is an annual show exclusively for Goddess Kali, the presiding deity of our village temple, that we have continued for generations, said 56-year-old K.K. Ramachandra Pulavar, the living legend of the art.

The ritualistic puppetry has not found many appreciators in Palakkad and its surroundings, but Akademi award winner Ramachandra Pulavar and his brothers, Lakshmana Pulavar and Viswanatha Pulavar, will not relent.

They are propagating it worldwide by adapting literary and social themes. “Our puppetry adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ has won wide appreciation. Same is the case ‘with ‘Kristhu Charitham’ and ‘Gandhi Charitham.’

Social campaign

We also perform puppetry shows on social campaign issues such as AIDS,” he said. Apart from these brothers, there are 12 artistes from Koonathara who are struggling to keep the art form alive.

It was Ramachandra Pulavar’s father, Krishnan Kutty Pulavar, who gave this art a new lease of life years ago. A museum in memory of him in the village shows visitors the evolution of the art, using puppets made of leather. The 15-member outfit designs and manufactures the puppets they use. Believed to be 2,000-year-old, the art form depended mainly on the Kamba Ramayana as the text, and the language used was Tamil, along with Sanskrit and Malayalam words. It was only recently that the Pulavar and family have started using Hindi.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 7:00:31 PM |

Next Story