Kailasodharanam Kutiyattam by Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri
is an absorbing piece of drama from the epic Ramayana, in which the
mighty demon King Ravana encounters Mount Kailasa and the ensuing events
culminating in a curse that ends his life at a later stage.
Kutiyattam is an artistic tradition that goes beyond 2000 years. It
is the only ancient form of Sanskrit theatre, which has kept alive its
vibrant tradition till date. Sometimes it takes 40 days to enact a full
play in Kutiyattam. The creation of the present form of Kutiyattam is
ascribed to Kulasekhara Varma Cheraman Perumal, an ancient King of
Kutiyattam is recognized by the UNESCO as one of the masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.
Strictly a temple art, Kutiyattam was performed by the Chakiyar
community supported by Nambiars and Nangiyars, the women folk of Nambiar
community. This Sanskrit theatre got its name due to the combined
performance of Chakiyars and Nangiyars. The only musical accompaniment
used earlier was Mizhav, a percussion instrument played by Nambiar men.
Of late, Edakka, Sankhu and Kuzhithalam are also being used besides
Mizhav. Kutiyattam is usually performed in a Koothambalam, which is a
specially designed theatre attached to major temples. Koothambalams are
built according to the traditional texts on Vaasthusaasthram Silparatna.
Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri
Kutiyattam maestro Sivan Namboodiri stands out for his remarkable
dedication, relentless determination and an all-encompassing love of the
art. He joined Kerala Kalamandalam in 1965 to learn Kathakali. But
instead, he was destined to learn Kutiyattam, which was an unknown art
form for him. He learnt Kutiyattam under Painkulam Rama Chakiar. It took
him 10 long years to master this art form.
He has many firsts to his credit. He is the first non Chakiyar to
learn this art form. He is also the first candidate of institutionalized
training in Kutiyattam. Till 1965 Kutiyattam was taught only in a rigid
gurukula tradition. He is also the first male performer of
Nangiarkoothu till then dominated by Nangiars. He is also recognized for
introducing certain innovations regarding the use of costumes and
musical instruments in this age-old art form.
In 1975 he joined Kalamandalam as a faculty of Kutiyattam. He is also
working as the visiting professor at the School of Drama (University of
Calicut) since 1980. Apart from teaching, he has given many
performances in India and abroad. He has also many awards to his credit.
Sivan Namboodiri had won the gold medal for best Kutiyattam artiste for
three consecutive years from Margi’s (Thiruvananthapuram)
Saratholsavam. He has also won the first Mrinalini Sarabhai Award (1999)
for the most outstanding Indian artiste and the Kerala State Sangeet
Natak Akademi Award. He also has the prestigious certificate of
appreciation from the Smithsonian Institution, Washington. He is hailed
as second only to the grand old man of Kutiyattam, Ammannur Madhava