Kathakali concerts are rare in Mumbai, and performances by dancers from Kerala Kalaman-dalam, the country’s foremost Kathakali institute, are even rarer.
This weekend, 20 artistes from the Thrissur-based institute will perform in the city at the Fine Arts Cultural Centre’s Nrithyotsavam festival, touring Mumbai five years after their show at the Keli festival in 2007.
“The demand for Kathakali shows in Mumbai is increasing now,” says KK Sunderesan, registrar of Kerala Kalamandalam.
Kathakali, a classical dance form that originated in Kerala, is known for its vibrant costumes and elaborate make-up to denote different characters.
For their Mumbai concert, Kerala Kalamandalam will present Nala Charitam, one of Kathakali’s most popular plays, written by 17th century poet Unnayi Variyar.
The play, which tells the story of the mythological king Nala and his wife Damayanti, is usually performed in parts over four days. Mumbai audiences will get to watch the second episode.
“We make sure to begin the dance by presenting a synopsis of the story, so that audiences who are not familiar with the dance can understand it,” says Sunderesan.