A Journey through the Life of a Koodiyattam Maestro


Directed by Rajan Karimoola

Sivam’ - a documentary directed by Rajan Karimoola - features the extraordinary artistic journey of Padma Shri Award winner, Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri. The documentary, which won the prestigious Kalamandalam Award for Best Documentary records interviews of his dance contemporaries and juniors, and also includes conversations with the artiste himself. Besides visuals of his performances, past events of his life and the sensational journey as an artiste have been dramatised.

Sivan Namboodiri, born in 1950, entered the domain of Koodiyattam at the age of fourteen. He was one of the two students of the first batch of Koodiyattam at Kala mandalam. The highlight of Sivan Namboodiri's career came in Paris, when he performed two acts before a UNESCO jury assigned to select art forms for inclusion in UNESCO's Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The jury subsequently approved the inclusion of Koodiyattam to the elite league of performance art forms.



Kerala's ancient temple art form
Koodiyattam - the ritualistic temple theatre tradition from Kerala, India - is officially recognized by UNESCO as a 'Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity' since 2001. Mentioned in Chilappathikaram, the 1500-year-old Tamil classic, the art form has been in existence for nearly 2000 years, making it one of the world's oldest living theater traditions.

The performance art form has been traditionally enacted in sacred theaters, Koothambalam, within the precincts of Kerala's temples. Since 1955, valiant attempts to preserve the art form has been initiated by its proponents, whereby performances have been staged outside temples and thus popularised all over the world.

A stellar combination of ancient Sanskrit theatre classics and elements of Koothu, an early Tamil performing art, Koodiyattam blends sacred rituals and rehearsed elements with creative improvisation. Intricate gestures and amplified face-and-eye movements are complemented with elaborate headdresses and makeup.

Typically, a Koodiyattam performance is enacted in the late evening after conclusion of temple rituals and continues for a few hours, sometimes until dawn before morning rituals commence. In its original avatar, performances lasted several days and staging of a single act has been known to extend upto 41 days.

In 2012, the Government of India awarded him the Padma Shri for his contributions to the art of Koodiyattam. A teacher of repute at the Kerala Kalamandalam, Sivan Namboodiri is also a Visiting Professor at The School of Drama, University of Calicut.

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Padma Sri Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri


Rajan Karimoola