Koothu – Portraying the Artist

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Therukoothu is an ancient folk dance art form, almost 2000 years old, which originated in South India. Koothu (as it is widely called) as a form of entertainment reached its peak hundreds of years ago in Tamil Nadu as mentioned in the Sangam texts about the development of iyal (literature), isai (music) and natagam (drama). Going beyond just a means of entertainment, koothu educates the rural people about religion and their history. Documenting Koothu has always been a dream, and there are so many aspects to it. We wanted to start with the Artist, the one who carries the soul of this art. Watch the video to witness the making of the portraits and the transformation of the artists.
Being a Therukoothu Artist is altogether a different world. Unlike other art forms, the artist here has to sing, dance, narrate and act, all at the same time. Preparing for the Koothu is a story by itself, as the artist adorns the detailed make up, the heavy attire and the intrinsic costume. Despite the fact that the number of people watching Koothu has sizably reduced and there is not much of a commercial motive in the Koothu, the heart and soul that a Therukoothu artist puts into his/her performance is inspiring. In their routine, they would be different people doing different jobs. But when they become their characters in the play, they transcend to a whole new world. This is our first step to the many miles ahead we look to scale in documenting this quintessential folk art form.

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