Kerala

Curating Kunchan Nambiar for the masses

Veteran Thullal artiste Kalamandalam Prabhakaran reached his daughter’s house at Cherthala last month to spend time with his grandchild. However, his plans of returning home to Ernakulam a few days later were scuppered by the lockdown.

Finding life under lockdown difficult, Prabhakaran, 74, found a way to cope with the restriction blues by producing videos that curated the works of Kunchan Nambiar, the poet, performer, and satirist who popularised Ottan Thullal as a performing art in the 18th century. He aimed at showcasing the relevance of the works and share a lighter moment with the audience.

Episodes on Facebook

Unlike the usual ways of presenting the great poet’s works in a traditional Thullal performance, he has opted to recite select verses in the videos. Prabhakaran has so far produced 10 episodes titled Ozhivu Samaya Kunjan Narma Chinthakal and posted it on his Facebook page, where he thematically presents the works, with some resonating with the present situation.

According to Prabhakaran, many of the literary works of Nambiar, though studied academically, are not widely known among the public. “This is a small endeavour to seek the attention of the common audience as well as those interested in Malayalam poems. The episodes highlight a few lines from the poems written by Kunchan Nambiar, which point towards social satire and poetic styles,” says Prabhakaran, a Syndicate member and visiting professor at the Kerala Kalamandalam and Senate member of Malayalam University, Tirur.

In an episode, Prabhakaran presents how Nambiar vividly describes a hypothetical situation where the supply of air is absent. The verses, though aimed at creating laughter, rather paint a vivid picture of how the world comes to a standstill with people mortified halfway into their actions.

In another episode, the artiste tries to explore Nambiar as a poet who uses deep social observation and scathing social criticism. Another episode shows the revolutionary face of Nambiar, who as a poet ridicules luxury weddings.

Facebook videos are just another attempt by Prabhakaran to revive Thullal, which has a restricted audience.

Still relevant

“Kunchan Nambiar was a revolutionary poet who satirised the social evils of his time through the art form Thullal. But it has not lost its relevance even in the 21st century due to his foresight. This is the message we try to pass on to the audience through the videos,” says Praveena K., his daughter and Assistant Professor of Economics, NSS College, Cherthala.


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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 3:39:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/curating-kunchan-nambiar-for-the-masses/article31457849.ece

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