Irinjalakkuda, Kerala: One of the finest exponents of Ottanthullal, Kalamandalam Geethanandan, died while performing at a temple in Irinjalakkuda in Kerala's Thrissur district. Ottanthulal is a classical dance form from Kerala, performed by very few artistes now.
58-year-old Geethanandan, was a retired head of the Thullal Department at Kalamandalam Deemed University of Art and Culture. A video clip of his last performance, circulating in the social media, showed how the dancer collapsed in front of the percussion artiste with his hands folded. He was rushed to the hospital but it was too late.
Kalamandalam Geethanandan received several awards including the Sangeetha Nataka Academy Award in 2000. He also acted in over 30 Malayalam films.
Condolences poured in from across party lines in Kerala; Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, Kalamandalam Geethanandan's death was a great loss to art and culture in the state. Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala said Geethanandan was an artiste who made thullal popular among people.
Thullal, a solo performance, based on poetry combines dance and recitations, is one of the oldest art forms of Kerala. It has its origins in the Natya Shastra, belonging to the 2nd century B.C. Thullal in local dialect means to jump and performers in colourful costumes and heavy makeup perform while reciting the verses.
The Kerala tourism department has been trying to popularize the dance form, the themes of which are based on mythology. Verses of the renowned 18th century poet Kunchan Nambiar are often used for Ottanthulal performances.