Sticking to tradition

For posterity: Still from ‘Thalangalude Keliperuma.’

For posterity: Still from ‘Thalangalude Keliperuma.’  


‘Thalangalude Keliperuma’ captures the essence of a 200-year-old art form called Payyannur Kolkali.

Award winners Madhu Kaithapram and M.J. Radhakrishnan have come up with a 30-minute documentary, ‘Thalangalude Keliperuma,’ on Payyannur Kolkali, a 200-year old art form.

“I wanted to make use of the best of talents available to produce a documentary that would ensure this ancient art form is preserved for posterity,” says Damodaran, winner of the State Folklore Akademi award for Kolkali in 2006.

Blend of styles

Payyannur Kolkali is actually a blend of several art forms and is different from the traditional Kolkali. “It is a melange of different art forms encompassing dance, music and martial art. The music is from Kathakali, there are traces of Theyyam and Kalaripayattu as well as some steps from Bharatanatyam,” elaborates Damodaran.

There is also a lot of stress on lyrics. “The lyrics were based on social issues of the period. In this particular film, we are using songs composed during the time of India’s freedom struggle. Payyannur Kolkali was used at that time as a medium to spread the message of the freedom movement,” says Damodaran.

Damodaran adds there is renewed interest in the art form. “A troupe from Payyannur has been actively performing in many cities outside Kerala for the past few years. And many youngsters, including girls, are learning it now,” he says.

Damodaran, who has formed a troupe of Payyannur Kolkali artistes in Abu Dhabi, plans to screen the film outside India too. “From experience I have found that Payyannur Kolkali appeals to non-Malayali audiences too because it was well received in several cities in the Gulf during the last five years,” he says.

For Madhu, this is his first work since directing the National-award winning ‘Ekantham.’

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