The Padma Shri recipient addresses socio-political points and modern themes via the historical artwork kind
Tholpavakoothu (shadow puppetry), a centuries-old artwork kind from Kerala bridged the previous and current with a one-hour recital that showcased the story of coir in the State. KK Ramachandra Pulavar’s tholpavakoothu present was half of the just lately held Coir Kerala 2021, in Alappuzha.
The efficiency with leather-based puppets examined the place of coir in the socio-economic historical past of Kerala, the struggles and difficulties of coir staff and numerous schemes applied by the Government of Kerala over the previous four-and-a-half years that assist the coir business which was in tatters for numerous causes.
Pulavar, a Padma Shri recipient this yr, explains that they needed to make new puppets for placing up such reveals themed on modern occasions. So leather-based puppets representing Kerala’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Finance Minister Thomas Isaac needed to be made together with these of coir staff, coir traders, machines for twisting the coir into ropes and so forth.
Realising the significance of broadening the thematic content material of the heritage artwork kind, Pulavar has been at the forefront of choreographing, writing and creating modern themes in tholpavakoothu.
“Unlike the narrative in a mixture of Tamil, Malayalam and Sanskrit in the ritualistic shows that we perform in about 85 temples from January to May, the new ones are in simple Malayalam. Even for shows staged outside the precincts of temples, I prefer using simple Malayalam to the traditional narratives. Such shows are able to capture the viewers’ attention when we speak in a language that is familiar to them. I also made the movements a little more dramatic to reach out to the audience,” explains Pulavar.
Right from new puppets and reveals to consciousness programmes on COVID-19 to performances themed on the Panchatantra, The Mahabharatha and legends of Lord Ayyappa, Mahabali and The Bible (Yesukoothu) have been developed by Pulavar. Shows primarily based on the life of Buddha and Gandhi have additionally been staged at many venues in India and overseas with naratives in Hindi and English.
“Tholpavakoothu in temples focusses on the rendering of The Ramayana from Kamba Ramayanam. The tholpavakoothu performance at temples lasts for 10 hours. It goes on for 21 days at the Devi temple in our village in Koonathara, Shornur (Thrissur district),” he elaborates.
Narratives of yore
He emphasises that each one ritualistic performances in temples comply with the conventional narratives of his ancestors. Performing since the age of six, Pulavar says that 13 generations of his household have been staging performances and making the distinctive leather-based puppets. “I have been a performer for 50 years now. Having learnt the art form from my late father Krishnakutty Pulavar, I have also been lucky to observe, learn and perform with maestros in the field such as the late Uppathu Narayanan Nair and Balan Nair,” he explains.
Dedicating the Padma Shri to their reminiscence, perseverance and onerous work, he says he owes the honour for carrying on with the artwork kind even in the face of nice odds, to them. He factors out that that is the first time a tholpavakoothu performer has been honoured with a Padma award.
“Right from the time man observed shadows, this form of performance has existed in many forms and it is perhaps one of the oldest forms of storytelling. It is the percusor of cinema. Is it any surprise that the logo of the International Film Festival of Kerala is that of a tholpavakoothu puppet? I see the Padma Shri as an honour for every tholpavakoothu performer,” he asserts.
He recollects a interval when there have been restricted alternatives and hardly any viewers turning as much as watch their evocative performances even in temples. “There was a period when puppetry was in doldrums but there has been many positive changes over the last couple of decades. My predecessors democratised the art form and popularised it. Once staged only in temples, they gave it a bigger audience by putting up by plays outside temples. There have been revolutionary changes in the themes we take up. We have choreographed performances based on the socio-political developments of Kerala,” he says.
Pulavar’s three youngsters, Rajeev, Rajitha and Rahul are additionally following of their forefathers’ footsteps. While Rajeev is working along with his father, Rahul is engaged on his doctorate in Assam University whereas Rajitha is probably the solely girl performer in the area. A recipient of the junior fellowship of the Kerala Folklore Academy, she is the solely girl tholpavakoothu performer to have gained the Yuva Prathibha award of the Academy.
“Rajitha’s dream is to form a troupe consisting of only women and choreograph plays that highlight stories with an accent on women. She has given a feminine touch to the art form,” provides Pulavar.