Tuesday, February 26, 2013


When Surath Muthappan Sevasamithi  requested PACT, Payyanur to perform Kolkali at Surath, we took the challenge. Maithri, Theru  headed by Santhosh Kumar agreed to help us. As we were totally unaware of the venue where the function is being held, we requested the Organisers to arrange an open space for the performance.

So we, a team comprising of 27, set of from by the Okha Express which reaches Payyanur at an odd hour of 2.45 am. The train reached Surat at the same time next day so that two days sleep got disturbed. At the Station the organizers warmly received us and took us to the Prakathi Hall, Adajen, the venue of the festival.

Sri. Praful, an officer at KRIBHCO who was from Payyanur and a close friend of all was waiting and he took us to KRIBHCO Guest House as the accommodation at the venue of the festival was rather crowded with theyyam artists and others. The other friends of the Kolkali team decided to stay at the festival venue itself.

Surath is the second largest city of Gujarath and the festival is being conducted by the Malayalees of Surath belonging to Kannur and Kasaragod Districts . The main programme is a performance of Muthappan and they have invited us to present kolkali as an additional attraction of the function for the current year. 

The performance of kolkali impressed everyone. They were spell bound by the perfection of Charadukuthi kali. We were astonished to see a long queue of devotes waiting patiently to get a darsan of Muthappan until late night. There was a splendid sadya by a team led by Ullas from padichal 

We found several friends there who had been settled in Surath for long. What attracted us most was their devotion and love for their home land and its culture.
 watch charadu kuthi kali at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7wDrNEtTYc

Friday, February 15, 2013


  K U Mohanan, a gifted cinematographer from Payyanur gramam is again in the news for his exceptional camera work in  talaash. He has become the most sought after camera man in bollywood after many success stories. In 2012 alone there were two outstanding films to his credit -  ‘Miss Lovely’ which in fact shocked Cannes audience and ‘Celluloid man’, a documentary well received. 

Payyanur has produced many men of talents. Born to an orthodox family, Mohanan fought hard to scale up to the top. He has undertaken much pain to become what he is now. He is a born artist and was initiated to drama and cinema much earlier in life. His father, P G Poduval was a famous ‘kolkali’ singer. The cultural environment of Payyanur with theyyam, temple art forms and folk arts helped him a lot. His association with CH Surendran Nambiar and CH Mohanan acquainted him with world classics. He had a taste of good cinema at  Sarga Film society headed by P. T. Ramakrishnan and K. Ramachandran which opened up world cinema before him.

He completed his primary education from muchilot school and high school from Govt. High School , Payyanur. He graduated in English Literature from Payyanur College His talents matured here and he bagged many awards in University art festivals. He taught English at Cherussery College for some time. Here he, along with friends conducted many seminars and symposiums on world Literature.
          He started his amateur work as a photographer with a camera gifted to him by Mr. Salam, a college friend. He spent valuable money on films (which was very dear then) empty bellied which invited the wrath of his relatives.  He spent hours of sleepless nights at temples and ‘Kavus” to shoot theyyams and other folk art forms with friends. These photos were his pass word to Pune Film Institute. His diploma film shocked everyone.

After Film  Institute his initial attempts at documentary and ad films was appreciated alike. Even today some of the top ad visuals are by him.

                   He got a very good opening in feature films with Mani kaul in Noukar ki kameez which received many laurels. His camera work in lagan and Don opened up Bollywood to him. He also shot many films. In fact his credit list is very long including 'sayanam' in malayalam

                    His films include  We are Family, Aja Nachle, Don, John &Jane, Y Not ?, Samay : When time strikes, Freaky Chakra, Rooms of Shadow and Light, The Magnificent Ruin, Aadhi Haqeet, Aadha Fasana, Agnivarsha: The Fire  and the Rain, Majuben Truck Driver

He is settled in Mumbay with his journalist wife Beena and  daughter and son. His daughter Malavika Mohan had her debut cine appearance as heroine in pattam pole with Dulquer Salman

Also see 

Monday, February 11, 2013



                Call it superstition, pagan belief or anything you like- but theyyam is so real that the life of gramers will be very monotonous without theyyam festivals. The womenfolk even today seek solace from theyyams  who will console them by uttering words of wisdom . Theyyam is a perfect art. The colours are perfect.The dress and the makeup along with the head gear is pure art. A theyyam illuminated in choottukatta ( Leaf torch) have a mesmerizing effect. You will feel that there is something supernatural in it. The artist will be a humble poor man you know but when he becomes a theyyam you will stand before him only with hands folded. Many of the mother goddesses theyyams are incarnations of kali who will terrorize you. 

ഉരുഗാ ധിപനോട് ഗരുഡ നെന്ന പ്രകാരത്തിങ്കല്‍ ചെല്ലുന്ന ദിക്കിനകതിങ്കല്‍ തല താഴാതീട്ടു തക്കവണ്ണം ശത്രുസംഹാരം നടത്തി കൈവല്യത്തെ  പൊഴിയിച്ചു തരാം കേട്ടോ പൈതങ്ങളെ             

            Theyyam cult should have been started as a ritual for getting rid of all types of mundane difficulties- Famine, diseases, distress and the like. Initially it might have been the komarams which performed these godly acts. But later on it attained a very ordered form with its face painting, drums, pipes and fire walking rituals attaining the status of a complete ritual.
            Theyyam festivals are to be lived through. Here you are not a silent spectator. You will feel that you have lived through a new experience. It recharges your soul. It strikes a deep consoling note in your psyche.

            In an around gramam there are many kavus. Ashtamachal Bhagavathi, Mambalam , Kurunhi , Mavichery and Kottnachery are some . Besides there are tharavadu theyyams.
             All theyyams have a story of origin. This story will be sung along with the performance as thottam pattu. It can be the story of a mother deported alone to an alien land in a boat, a warrier died in action or a lady victimized by the rulers. 
            Theyyam festival is a fertility festival. When deepavum thiriyum from Payyanur temple reaches the kavu, sky rockets penetrate the evening sky with deafening noise. Everyone knew the kaliattom is on. All get ready for the vellattum which is a prelude to the original theyyam. The vellatum will be accompanied by velichapads, umbrella men, and kalasam (a pot full of toddy decorated with areca nut leaves). The vellattum performs a series of somersaults among flowerpots and other fireworks. During night the stage is set for other cultural programs. On the early hours of the concluding day there will be a grant fireworks display. During day  all the theyyams set forth, dance and grace the devotees  until late night.
My memories of childhood are linked with a lot of theyyam experience. For children theyyam festival is an occasion for great fun and joy. There will be provision for merriment- balloons, toys and merry go round. For youngsters the festival is an occasion for bonding the adolescent relationships-for family men an occasion for meeting old friends and relatives- for the old folks a chance to be graced by their gods.
When we live through a kaliattum, another year pass by, and we all promise to meet again for the next kaliattum. Each theyyam festival gives enough food for thought until then.

Also see 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013



                  In all cultures, marriages are celebrations of the whole community. Wedding is a time of mirth and reunion of all family members and old friends. But in gramam a wedding is no more synonymous with joy and reunion but a real head ache for the parents of the married, as nowadays a marriage function has changed to be a real kaliattom. It is a total mess. No one can tell you who attended the function and who abstained, who got food and who returned dejected. Children cry as their mothers desert them at the scuffle before the queue to the dining hall. Collapsible shutters are mercilessly closed before you as if you were an intruder. You will feel you were in Ethiopia and people have not enjoyed a proper meal for ages. Once inside the hall the different items will be dumped into your plantain leaf and people will be eagerly standing behind you to snatch your seat when you finish. Also you could see people who will directly go to the lunch room without bothering to attend the wedding.
Last week there were two such weddings. The number of guests who attended the wedding will amaze anyone in the world – a sweeping three and a half thousand people. In no other part of the world will there be such a mass reception in connection with a wedding except of course for the weddings by people like Ambanies and others.
So in gramam when someone invites you to the wedding you will note the date. A holiday is declared for the kitchen for two days. Formerly, on the previous day of the wedding there used to be a small function in the bridegrooms home for those who could not attend the wedding the next day. Now everyone expect a Biriyani to be served to all on the previous day. Hence the parents are burdened to arrange two functions simultaneously.
After a wedding, the brides’ parents will never smile again as before. Such is the expenditure towards ornaments and food. The expenditure is not shared by the bridegrooms’ family as in other cultures. So the bridegroom and family will invite everyone they know.
In Christian and Muslim wedding there will be someone to receive you, take you around and feed you. Here there will be none. Last week I found a victim of our new practice. A close friend of the bride’s father from Thrissur came to attend the wedding. He came to the auditorium. No one received him. He attended the wedding. He was not at all happy as his friend who was very busy with his new relatives could not spare time with him. He shook hands with him and waited for some time to be photographed so that his long journey to the wedding is acknowledged and recorded. But no one invited him to the dais and he went down to the dining hall. The sight of people fighting for a seat was enough for him and he returned dejected.
This indeed is shameful. We should do something. The number of guests should be limited to a minimum. This will be difficult. But if only one person from one family attend the function, besides close relatives and friends, the number could be limited to five hundred maximum.