Ottam Thullal is a Malayalam recite-and-dance form of Kerala. Late Sri Kunchan Nambiar introduced this art form in the eighteenth century. Sri Kunchan Nambiar was one of the Pracheena Kavithrayam (ancient Poet-Trio or Triumvirate) where the other two were Late Sri Thunchath Ezhuthassan and Late Sri Cherusseri Namboodiri. The Aadhunika Kavitrayam (modern Triumvirate) of Malayalam poetry are N Kumaran Asan, Vallathol Narayana Menon and Ulloor S Parameswara Iyer.
Ottam Thullal is often mixed with humor mainly intended at criticism of the society. Based upon the Natya Shastra, Ottam Thullal is a sort of Song-Dance performance with the accompaniment of Mridangam and Cymbals. It is a solo performance where the artist does a light green facial makeup and wears a colourful costume.
Usually, Ottam Thullal is performed by male artists while female artists also are performing now. The performer acts and dances while reciting the dance lyrics. As each sentence is completed by the artist, one who plays the Cymbals repeats the line.
Watch an Ottam Thullal Performance in Duabi. Video Credit Ambu Ajay.