Curating Kunchan Nambiar for the masses

Kalamandalam Prabhakaran on a mission to popularise Thullal during lockdown

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.

A letter from the Editor

Dear reader,

We have been keeping you up-to-date with information on the developments in India and the world that have a bearing on our health and wellbeing, our lives and livelihoods, during these difficult times. To enable wide dissemination of news that is in public interest, we have increased the number of articles that can be read free, and extended free trial periods. However, we have a request for those who can afford to subscribe: please do. As we fight disinformation and misinformation, and keep apace with the happenings, we need to commit greater resources to news gathering operations. We promise to deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Support Quality Journalism
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 5:44:54 PM |

Next Story