It is very ancient classical dance from south India. This classical dance style is famous for its face make up and costume. It is the main dance form of Keral State where this style started by Nambudripad Brahman. It is basically a dance drama, which is developed from the ancient tradition of ‘Krishnattam’.

People often confronted with mistake Kathak and Kathakali. Kathak is from the north and Kathakali is from the state of Kerala and no styles could be more different than each other. Kathakali artist has perhaps been one of the most exploited ones in modern media and propaganda campaigns as the symbol of India because of its make-up. The green mask painted on a face which is almost shadowed by the huge crown on top of the head, which is used to represent Indian art is well known all over the world. However the grandeur of this art form can be felt only if one sees a live performance in an open-air theatre with huge oil lamps lighting the artists and sounds of the drums.

Kathakali is more rather a masked dance drama or a simple dance recital. The ruler of Calicut in the 17th century was immensely impressed by the Geeta Govinda (The Geeta Govinda is work in Sanskrit by the poet Jayadeva). He ruled that everyday the Geet Govinda should be recited in the Guruvayur temple. This practice is still maintained as of this day. Besides this he wrote Krishnageeti a poem about Lord Krishna and asked this to be performed at the temple too.

Another ruler of Kottarakara saw this play and was so impressed that he requested the King of Calicut to send the troupe to his kingdom. The king of Calicut refused and this angered the ruler of Kotarakara. He decided then to create his own play on the life of God Rama called the Ramanattam. Poems and the other literature of this was in Malayalam language. Soon Ramanattam became popular and spread everywhere. He also renamed the style calling it ‘Kathakali’ i.e. ‘Katha’- story + ‘kali’ — act or play. Besides improving the costumes and make up so that the facial expressions were emphasized, he also selected interesting dramatic plots for presentation. He chose episodes from the Mahabharata, which were more attractive to the audiences.

However even with all these changes Kathakali remained in the shadows till the advent of the great poet Vallathol. He also started the ‘Kerala Kalamandalam’. Some of the famous techers of this style are Kunju Kurup, Guru Ramankutty, Guru Gopalakrishnan

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