Tholpavakoothu or shadow puppetry is one of the ancient art forms of Kerala. Even though its origin is not known, this art form is said to have been in existence since the time shadows were invented. Though there are shadow plays in other countries with various names, Tholpavakoothu is performed with temple rituals and in a traditional manner only in Kerala.
“Since people having the option of choosing other media today, they are not ready to give up their sleep to watch Tholpavakoothu late in the night,” says Rajeev Pulavur, a Tholpavakoothu artist from a traditional Tholpavakoothu family at Koonathara, Shoranur. When Rajeev says this, it is a clear indication of how the art is disappearing from this land.
Rajeev, the son of K.K. Ramachandra Pulavur, who is one of the great pioneers of the art form, aims to provide a breath of fresh air to this art. Rajeev has been performing it since the last 20 years. As the mindsets of people have changed over the years, he believes that understanding and adapting to those changes are necessary in order to preserve the art.