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An Amalgam of Dance and Humour—Ottan Thullal by the Kerala Kalamandalam

The Cultural Coordination Committee of MAHE along with the Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth (SPICMACAY) conducted an Ottan Thullal performance at the Gangubai Hangal auditorium on 13th September. This event was part of the fourth annual culture circuit by SPICMACAY in Manipal. The performing artists were from the Kerala Kalamandalam, a deemed to be University of Art and Culture for Indian performing arts.

The event was inaugurated by Dr Shobha U Kamath, Chairperson, Cultural Coordination Committee, MAHE. Following this, Guru Kalamandalam Suresh took to the stage and explained to the audience what Ottan Thullal is. A form of folk dance which draws its roots from Kerala, it incorporates wit and humour in its mythologically inspired stories.

The performance was based on one of the pages from the Mahabharatha depicting an incident where Bheem met Hanuman on his way to collect Saugandhika flowers. The Thullal was performed by the renowned artist, Guru Kalamandalam Mohanakrishnan in a stunning costume and makeup, accompanied by Kalamandalam Suresh on the Taal, and Kalamandalam Rajiv on the Mridangam. Although the dialogues throughout the act were in Malayalam, the language barrier did not prevent the large crowd from enjoying the dance, owing to the vivid expressions of Guru Kalamandalam Mohanakrishnan. The trio performing the act used their facial expressions and hand gestures to communicate with the audience, and kept them engrossed throughout the show.

“The event was truly a memorable one. It gave us an opportunity to witness a unique art form”, said Gautham Siva Kumar, the Cultural Secretary of Manipal Institute of Communication. After the performance, some members of the audience took advantage of the event to take pictures with Guru Mohanakrishnan. SPICMACAY’s cultural circuit proved to be a success yet again, as the delightful amalgamation of poetry, humour, and dance left the audience wanting more.