Kutiyattam is a theatre form that has the richness and depth acquired from an ancient history and a long and unbroken performance tradition of more than 2000 years.


Koothambalam meaning ‘temple for theatre’ is the exclusively designed venue for the performance of this unique theatre. Actors(Chakyar and Nangiar), musicians, costume and stage specialists(Nambiar) come together to realize the performance.


Performances are usually based on Sanskrit texts and their elaborate interpretations and dramatisation. The actor reigns in Kutiyattam. The ‘performance space’ and ‘performance time’ sets free a well trained actor like a bird to explore the sky.  The actor is followed by the acompanying mizhavu that breathes life into every pulse, movment and emotion.


The craft and techniques of acting are a blend of both elements – high stylisation and folk (daily, rustic, worldly). The actors and musicians undergo several years of intense training and conditioning to master the complex techniques and skill and simultanoesly acqiure the capability of having the altered existence onstage.


Performances can hardly be time bound. The presentation of a single act of a play can go on for several days and nights, moments can be frozen and explored for hours in an almost meditative relationship between actor and sahrdya(one of good heart, spectator).


The  theatre style embraces  south India’s indigenous culture of conception and representation as well as the acting technique described in Bharatha’s Natyashastra, the treatise on Indian dramaturgy. Therefore it internalizes both the rigour and vitality of all the folk, ritual and martial arts together with the concepts of Classical Sanskrit theatre in India.


For all my friends who have never watched a Kutiyattam performance. I thought it is useful to have some visual introduction. This is a scene from the play Thoranayudham, Act Three of Bhasa’s play Abhisheka Natakam. The three characters are Hanuman, Ravana and Vibhishana. The situation is the dramatic meeting and conversation  between Hanuman and Ravana in Lanka. The thre actors performing are (Hanuman- Pothiyil Renjith Chakyar, Ravana – Ammannur Rajaneesh Chakyar, and Vibhishana – Sooraj Nambiar). All three are are disciples of Guru Ammanur Madhava Chakyar, well known performers who are currently working as staff artistes at the Ammannur Chachu Chakyar Smaraka Gurukulam – Centre for Kutiyattam, Irinjalakuda.

Photo by Manoj Parameswaran, Copyright: Natanakairali


Here is a link to an online article on Kutiyattam by Sudha Gopalakrishnan        http://ignca.nic.in/kuti0001.htm


14 responses

1 10 2008
Haree | ഹരീ

How it should be spelled? Koodiyattam or Kootiyattam? I personally think it’s Koodiyattam not Kootiyattam. Please check this Wiki page. They too use Koodiyattam.

Do a search in Google. Kootiyattam got only 978 results whereas Koodiyattam got 13,700 results!

7 06 2009
Kutiyattam - The theatre form « virali.org

[…] Kutiyattam […]

9 07 2009

Kutiyattam is the spelling approved by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi…. thats why we use it..

29 01 2010
Anisha Pucadyil

Hi Kapilla,
The website is a great initiative to reach out to curious learners. Please allow to follow the blog and like it.

Warm regards,
Anisha Pucadyil

17 02 2010

Hi anisha,

what shud I do for that?

love, k

8 03 2010

i am proud of you,and feel jelousy tooo….
because of your dedication,its reach you on the peak of all.ഗുരുവായുരപ്പന്‍ അനുഗ്രഹിക്കട്ടെ

12 05 2010

good work.you r an inspiration to the young generation ..keep going

21 05 2010

Hey kapilla,
I have been trying to get in touch with you. Hope to connect soon.
Hope this link is useful http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/how-to-add-followers-to-side-bar

24 06 2010
Elizabeth Kurien

Hello Kapila,

I am a dance research student at California, interested in exploring specific socio-cultural aspects of Kutiyattam. I am travelling to Kerala (which is where I grew up), in July and plan to remain until October particularly for my research interests. I am deeply interested in the work you do, especially as a younger generation artists. I was wondering if I might be able to meet with you, hopefully, sometime in early July.
If not let me know when might be a good time. My email address is elizabeth_mani@yahoo.com. Do send me your contact no. so I can get in touch with you asap.

26 09 2010
ktvinod nambiar

hiiii kapila i know nothing about kutiyattam but iam intersted.me doing business in kannur.when u r programe in kerala.

5 03 2011

I don’t know more about it, but If you know the right spelling, then why don’t you forward a request to authorities.
I think its possible to get right spelling if we go for the origin of the word
possibly it came from sanskrit.
In my perspective, there is large difference between the words ‘koodi’ and ‘kootti’. So the spelling kutiyattam is wrong
aatam is the word from tamil. Which is leading dravidiyan language.

22 11 2011
Julee Heuser

It’s arduous to find knowledgeable folks on this subject, however you sound like you know what you’re speaking about! Thanks

26 11 2011
Nicky the Naughty

Hi from Woollongabba, Australia. My name is Nicky. I am a nineteen year old law student. I found this post when I was doing some research for my university assignment. Thanks for your help. I now have a lot more direction. 🙂

14 12 2011

Beautiful website. Many blessings from the Caribbean in Chicago!
Rey Andújar

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: