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Thullal - a Satirical Art Form

 

Across the length and breadth of Kerala’s landscape, Thullal performances have been the constant checks and reminders that have shaped our society. Seen at temple festivals and cultural programmes, these performances use elaborate expressions and stories recited in verses to bring important mythological tales and stories to life.

Introduced in the 18th century by legendary poet Kunchan Nambiar, it is epitomized by humour, satire and social criticism. The costume and makeup of the performer are similar to that of a Kathakali artist, and the Thullal performer is supported by a singer who repeats the verses and is accompanied by an orchestra of mridangam or thoppimaddalam (percussions) and cymbals. It has spawned into three separate versions which include- Ottanthullal, Seethankan thullal and Parayan thullal. Each has become a strong platform for reform and social consciousness in our community over the course of the last few centuries.

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