21st April 2014
I have seen Kathakali a few times earlier, but to watch Kathakali in its birthplace is a very special moment for any body who loves performing arts. So I had my chance when we were at Vivanta by Taj -Kovalam and they organized a show for the guests. In this particular show the artists portray Bheem and Draupadi from a scene in Mahabharata. Kathakali is all about expressions and the highly accomplished artists can depict every single emotion known to man by his eyes only. I say his because almost all the performers in Kathakali are men, and they play both male and female leads in the show. Though things are changing and women are now joining the same, though all the performances that we watched men played every single character.
Kathakali is a very special art form and artists learn it from a tender age with a guru. The makeup itself can take 3-4 hours depending on the character. Each color, ornament, accessory represent a particular theme, or characteristic of the person, e.g. Green is normally associated with the Hero of the play in this case Bheem, a key character from the epic Mahabharata. Along with the actors, the vocals and music play an equally important role in Kathakali, the actors never actually speak anything, the story is informed to the audience before hand and a singer carries it forward during the act.