One of the oldest theatrical art forms in the world, Kutiyattam, the classical Sanskrit theatre of Kerala, has been declared by UNESCO as a masterpiece of oral and intangible tradition of humanity.
In Malayalam, Kutiyattam means ‘acting together’ and as the name indicates, it is the acting together of a group of artistes on stage. It has also the distinction of being an age old art form in which both the men and the women perform on stage.
Kutiyattam is performed in Kuthampalam, special temple theatres built as an annex to the major temples. Acts from Sanskrit plays will be adopted and elaborated so that the whole performance becomes a full fledged and comprehensive oneplay. Sanskrit is the major linguistic medium. The Vidushaka or jester, however, speaks in the vernacular.
Cholliyattam is a kind of rehearsal to Kutiyattam, without any proper make-up. It is a word-by-word representation of the story, through proper gestures.
In the video, it is Kalamandalam Sivan Namboothiri who performs the Cholliyattam. He is enacting Kailasodharana or the lifting of the Kailasa mountain, the heavenly abode of Lord Shiva, by Ravana, a valorous demon king.