Puppet Kathakali enthrals prisoners

The ‘Pava Kathakali’ performance held at sub jail in Palakkad on Saturday as part of World Heritage Week celebrations organised by Thrissur circle of Archaeological Survey of India.— Photo: K. K. Mustafah  

It was a different experience for inmates of sub-jail in Palakkad on Saturday evening when a group of puppeteers led by K. C. Ramakrishnan Pandaram performed unique ‘Pava Kathakali’ or Puppet Kathakali before them.

The event marked the beginning of the observation of World Heritage Week Celebrations, organised by the Thrissur circle of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

As the historic Palakkad Fort that houses the sub-jail is being maintained by ASI, the celebrations were organised in a way providing an occasion for prison inmates to appreciate the art form that mixes Kerala’s traditional art form Kathakali with puppetry.

The half-a-dozen artists who performed ‘Pava Kathakali’ belonged to four families of Paruthippully village in Palakkad district who are struggling hard to keep alive the glove puppetry theatre despite heavy odds.

In his introductory speech, Mr. Ramakrishnan revealed that it their first performance in Palakkad town despite the wide recognition it received worldwide. At the district level, it was the second performance as the earlier one was held at Vellinezhy artists’ village.

He expressed his gratitude to ASI and jail authorities for helping to perform the art form in the land where it had been born.

“It is not an easy task. You have to be an expert both in Kathakali and puppetry to perform it. Because of poor patronage from the State government and the local community, we are struggling to recruit youngsters into it.

The Bharathapuzha basin used to be a fertile ground for many art forms including, ‘Pava Kathakali.’

Efforts to revive the dying river also must include steps to promote this art form,” said Mr. Ramakrishnan.

From Renigunta

The performers say they are from Telugu speaking families who migrated from Renigunta in Andhra Pradesh to Palakkad centuries ago.

Known as Aandipandarams, they came to Palakkad to perform the Tamil folk drama Aryamaala as a puppet show.

Later, sensing Kathakali’s popularity here, they carved Kathakali figures, studied the text, and shaped it to make it their own art form. During the programme, the artists hold Kathakali’s pacha, kathi and kari characters on their fingers.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 6:23:50 PM |

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