Kerala

Ex-policeman has a yen for Thullal

Prepping for stage: Manaloor Gopinath, Ottan Thullal teacher, with a student at the arts festival venue in Kanhangad.

Prepping for stage: Manaloor Gopinath, Ottan Thullal teacher, with a student at the arts festival venue in Kanhangad.  

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He spends most of his income to build Koothambalam at Guruvayur

If art forms such as Ottan Thullal are able to leave an impression on the minds of audience and continue to attract youngsters, it is also because of people like Manaloor Gopinath who sustain their passion for the classical art form even after getting a well-paid job.

Mr. Gopinath, a retired civil police officer from Thrissur, came with five of his students for the State School Arts Festival. All of them, just like past years, won ‘A’ Grade.

His dedication is such that he decided to spend a major part of his income to develop the infrastructure required to teach Thullal to the marginalised sections.

As a 5-year-old

It was his teacher who instilled the passion for Thullal in him as a boy. Mr. Gopinath first took the stage when he was just five years old. He then trained under various exponents of the art.

After joining government service, he took a year’s leave to learn Thullal under his guru Kalamandalam Gopinath. “I was just two years into my job when I decided to take loss-of-pay leave,” he said.

Even during the service, he never stopped learning and teaching. He has so far attended 11 State School Arts Festivals.

300 students

More than 300 students had learnt under him and as many as 13 of them had become professional artistes, he said proudly. “It is unfortunate that children are learning the art only to get grades and not taking it professionally,” he said.

It is this thought that made him spend a considerable part of the money he received after retirement to construct a Koothambalam at Guruvayur to teach children.

“For several years, the art has been monopolised by Kerala Kalamandalam and only a few have been able to learn it and become professionals after spending ten years. With the Koothambalam, I want to take the art even to the marginalised sections and popularise it among the masses. Many of the children training under me are from the coastal region,” he said.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 9:13:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/ex-policeman-has-a-yen-for-thullal/article30126338.ece

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