Abhinaya literally means ‘to lead forward’. It is device
for conveying the charecters’ mental condition to the audience. It can be of
two kinds – either stylized or imitative.
a. Natyadharmi -
It is difficult to clearly define these two styles. In general,
Natyadharmi could be called the stylized mode of acting
subject to rules and techniques. As per this, all the actors perform in the
same way. Lokadhami on the other hand, imitates things and events that are to
be described as in the ordinary. The gap between the two styles is, however,
not very wide. Opinions differ over the superiority of either of the styles.
The Natyadharmi is sometimes posed as superior since it attributes a classical touch to Kutiyattam
while others see the Lokadharmi as accounting for the aesthetic and artistic
content of the art form. These opinions are often elucidated with examples.
For instance showing the appropriate Mudra can depict the character Vanara (Monkey)
according to Natyadharmi, but would the character be complete without the Vanara’s
movements which the Lokadharmi provides for?
Since Natyadharmi follows classical traditions and rules
of acting all the actors tend to act in similar way, whereas Lokadharmi acknowledges
the performer’s individual difference in style and talent. This doesn’t do away
with the classical nature of the performance, wither. Bharata himself was not
averse to the idea of making slight changes in the Mudras as and when the occasion
Since it involves Caris (gait) suited for different occasions
it is concluded that Kutiyattam follows the Natyadharmi style amidst other opinions
that there is a mix of Lokadharmi too.
Sometimes the actor has to portray different characters.
For instance, in the scene ‘Ajagarakabalitam’ in Kalyanasaugandhikam, the actor variously becomes an elephant,
a snake and a lion. This is termed Pakarnattam – a transformation of roles.
Abhinayaprakara – Modes of acting
a) Patinjattam :
This is performed from a Samavastha (normal posture).
The Rasas Srngara, Karuna, etc., of noble character are portrayed in this way.
The Sampada (normal placing of feet) suggests this in the dance form of Bharathanatyam.
The heels are placed a foot apart and the feet turned outward. In
Kathakali the outer foot is pressed down and the feet placed straight.
is performed in the Virasana. Irunattm is also performed t portray an unhappy
mood with the character sitting on the ground.
this one foot is placed forward and the other bachward. The Rasas Vira, Raudra
and Adbhuta are acted in tehis posture.
||This is the dramatic
expression through the natural movement of limbs and sublimbs.
is the verbal expression through svara and raga.
is the vital spirit of Kutiyattam and is based on Rasabhinaya. For expressing
the Rasas different parts of the face- eyebrows, eyes, cheeks, lips, chin
etc., have to be trained. For example, in Srangara Rasa the eyebrows move,
in Raudra the cheeks twitch, the lips quiver for Soka, the chin moves rapidly
in Bhaya etc. the pupils of the eye have nine movements viz., Bharamanam,
Valanam, Patanam, Calanam, Pravesanam, Vivartanam, Samudvartam, Nishkramam,
Prakrtam. Of the nine Rasas, Kutiyattam makes use of only eight, leaving out the Santa
Rasa. Santa is viod – all Rasas begin and end in it and hence it is not
background, dress, make up, etc. constitute Aharya. The different characters
have their specific costumes and make up.