Thullal lessons in Kerala school curriculum get a visual avatar 

A collective of teachers from Kollam has filmed ‘thullal pattukal’ so that students get a clearer picture of the satirical art form

May 30, 2023 06:21 pm | Updated 10:16 pm IST - KOLLAM

Teachers interact with an artiste during the filming of Thullal lessons.

Teachers interact with an artiste during the filming of Thullal lessons. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

As the school year begins, a collective of teachers from Kollam district has come up with a unique gift for the students. They have filmed all the ‘thullal pattukal’ that are part of the curriculum so that students will get a clearer picture of the satirical art form that blends dance and recital. A total of five lessons included in the Malayalam textbooks for students from from Class I to Plus Two were shot with the help of artistes and technicians.

“Among the lessons, three are Ottan Thullal songs along with one Sheethankan and one Parayan Thullal. Though the students are taught these portions, they hardly get a chance to watch the original performance. While most have heard about Ottan Thullal, they don’t really know about the other two forms,” says N.K. Harikumar, an art teacher working at Siva Vilasam Vocational Higher Secondary School, who coordinated the work.

Harichandana, granddaughter of renowned Thullal artist Thamarakudy Karunakaran Master, has performed the three different categories of the art form. Each video is preceded by a brief on the traditional art form, its costumes, accompaniments and the importance of gestures and verses. “Around 25 teachers, artistes and technicians participated in the effort to film the lessons. Some teachers doubled up as singers who repeat the lines from the background, while some others handled the narrative portions before the performance. We were guided by Thiruvananthapuram district education officer R.S. Suresh Babu,” says Mr. Harikumar.

The first Thullal song students learn is ‘Eliyum Poochayum’ from the Class III textbook, which is followed by ‘Ooninte Melam’ for Class IV students. While ‘Mayante Mayajalam’ is taught in Class VI, ‘Kittum Panamenkilippol’ and ‘Kollivakkallathonnum’ are for Class VIII and Plus Two students respectively. “But none of these is usually performed at temple festivals or youth festivals,” says Mr. Harikumar.

The teachers are planning to hand over the video to the General Education department so that it will be screened at schools and on KITE Victers channel and other platforms. “It is also an effort to properly introduce the art form and the works of Kunchan Nambiar to the new generation,” he adds.

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