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Abhinaya (Acting)

  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 - Lokadharmi

  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 demanded.

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.

  b. 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.

b). Irunnattam:

This is performed in the Virasana. Irunattm is also performed t portray an unhappy mood with the character sitting on the ground.

c). Ilakiyattam:

In this one foot is placed forward and the other bachward. The Rasas Vira, Raudra and Adbhuta are acted in tehis posture.

a) Angika (Gestural) - This is  the dramatic expression through the natural movement of limbs and sublimbs.
b) Vacika (Vokal) - This is the verbal expression through svara and raga.
c) Sattvika (Internal) - This 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 elaborated.
d) Aharya (Extraneous) - Stage devices, background, dress, make up, etc. constitute Aharya. The different characters have their specific costumes and make up.


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