Kathakali is a unique classical dance form of Kerala in Southern India. It is nearly 400 to 500years old. During its evolution Kathakali also imbibed elements from folk and martial arts which existed at the time in Kerala. Characters with vividly painted faces and elaborate costumes re-enact stories from the epics like ‘Mahabharata’ and ‘Ramayana'.
The name Kathakali was derived from the Malayalam words, ’Katha’ (meaning story) and ‘Kali’ (meaning play). Kathakali is considered to be a combination of five elements of fine art: expressions (natyam), Dance (nritham), Enactment (nrithyam), Song (geetha) and Instrument accompaniment (vadyam).
Traditionally Kathakali performance is conducted at night and ends in the early morning. One of the most interesting aspects of Kathakali is its elaborate makeup code. Generally the make up can be classified in to five basic sets namely Pacha, Kathi, Kari, Thadi and Minukku.The make up is made from various minerals ores and pigments. Some characters also have their features enhanced such as an enlarged nose or an elaborate mustache. Dances also often place a ‘Chundanga’ seed (variety of egg plant) to turn the white of their eyes in to red.
The actors won’t speak or sing on the stage, they have to perform according to the back ground vocal music and rhythm.
The task of getting ready for a performance apparently takes a long time. It's worth spending all that time behind the scenes because the result is so spectacular. Kathakali stages are simple, with no props or scenery, so the arrival of these actors on stage is all the more impressive.
Padmabhooshan Kala.Ramankutty Asan
Padmasree Kala.Krishnan Nair Asan (late)
Padmasree Kala.Gopi Asan
Mani Madhava Chakiar(late)