Kathakali, the dance drama
Kathakali is one of the Indian classical dance forms that originated in the state of Kerala. It is based both on Indian and Keralite art forms. The music, rules of acting, storytelling techniques, costumes are formed as a result of combination Keralite and Indian art. The mudras(hand gestures)used come from ancient Indian thantra vidhya and choreography is mainly influenced by Keralite art forms like Kalarippayattu, Theyyam, Padayani etc. Kathakali has origins in Ramanattam and Krishnattam which existed in kerala. The stories enacted (attakathas) have their origins in Hindu Puranas.
The main parts of the dance drama are divided as the following parts
The four types of abinaya that barathamuni has described in natyashastra forms the basis of acting in kathakali also
For Angika abniya , the actor uses his hands. There 24 main hastha mudras and many upamudras that h elp the actors communicate. The body movements also form the part of acting.
In Kathakali the actors never talk. They only act according to lyrics sang by the singers standing at the back of the stage.
The costume and the makeup form the Aharayabhniya part of Kathakali. The costume of actors come in five different styles and are the following 1.Pacha 2.Kathi 3.Kari 4.Thadi 5.Minuk
The thought and emotions of the characters are conveyed through Bhava called abhinaya. Movements of Eyes, Eye brows, Cheeks, Lips form the Swasthika abniya.
The literature used in Kathakali is known as Attakatha. There are several popular Attakathas like Kalyanasuganthikam, Panchaliswayamvaram, Kichakavadham, Ravanavijayam, Puthanamoksham etc. Most of the attakathas have their origins in Hindu puranas. Nowadays other stories which are socially relevant are also enacted.
The musical instruments used are Chenda, Madalam, Elathalam, Chegila are used.The musicians and singers are an integral part of Kathakali. The different characters enacted by actors are illuminated by the musical performers. The main singer in Kathakali is known as Ponnani and his assistant is called singidi. Kerala has become world famous through Kathakali. Kathakali was popularized by Maha Kavi Vallathol who established Kerala Kalamandalam for reviving and preserving this art form.