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Kunchan Nambiar-Father of Ottanthullal By Santhu

Kunchan Nambiar- a visionary poet of Kerala, author of 21+ “Ottanthullal/ Ottamthullal”, succeeded to communicate complex themes humorously to unscholarly crowd.

“Thullal” is a type of performing art from Kerala and have a poem composition as its script. Ottanthullal is one among the three types of this category of poems. It is more famous than its other two categories Seethankan and Parayan. Kunchan Nambiar’s famous thullals are: Kalyana Saugandhikam, Hariniswayamvaram, Syamantakam, Ghoshayatra, Kiratam, Santanagopalam, Patracharitam, Kartaviryarijunavijam, Bakavadham, Tripuradakanam and Sabha Pravesam.

Each of Kunchan Nambiar’s thullal had a message and he was very critical to point out social evils that he saw around him during his life period. Kunchan Nambiar was a true poet in all sense and never ever bothered about the charge of anachronism. It is heard Kunchan Nambiar started to compose these poems for the poorer section of society who loved literature, during that era. This was the time when caste discretions were severe and the higher caste restricted the lower class to listen to poems and enjoy performing arts such as Kathakali. It is during this time Kunchan Nambiar decided that he should take a step forward to extend his new form of art to all art lovers and not to just higher casts. Kunchan Nambiar performed outdoors most of the time and his language was simple and straight, though a great scholar and by birth belonged to a scholar higher cast family. Not much ware about of this poet is known to the recent world but some say he had an unfortunate death by Rabies disease. This disease had no cure and bitten by rabies infected dog those days meant certain death. Some scholars have found evidence that he even created humour poem on the disease and mocked his near death circumstance.

Kunchan Nambiar believed that entertainment without humour was useless. The preface of most of his Ottanthullal clearly communicated to abandon his show to those who did not like comic and humour. The popularity of Kunchan Nambiar’s Ottanthullal affirms this vision. Kunchan Nambiar can be compared to Chaucer and Rabelais for his boisterous humour and knowledge of contemporary life. Kunchan’s Ottanthullals had set no limits to obscenity as per rules of his living era, often this came to sharp criticism from Nambudiris, Tamil Brahmins, Nayars, courtiers, courtesans who were authority to literature during those time.
Kunchan Nambiar often induced his own version humour tales into the main stream story without altering its subject. Kunchan Nambiar transformed the major holy books of Hindus and popular tales to “thullal”. The war of Ramayana is a holy tale of Lord Sri Rama conquering the demon king Ravana and eradicating the evil. This war is believed to be fought at today’s Sri Lanka years back.

Ravana is considered as a brutal ancient King who ruled Sri Lanka before 3500 years. Ravana had only one obsession; “war”. He attacked most of the neighbouring states and kings and brought misery to the people there. Ravana was so evil that he used his magical powers given by GODs against GODs itself. Ramayana war is depicted by Kunchan Nambiar in one of the Ottanthullal “Kartavirarjuna Vijayam”. I am going to explain how Kunchan Nambiar has depicted the mental attitude of Ravana and his brutality. The composition thus communicates the sadist mind of Ravana and also humorously narrates it to his unscholarly audience. Ravana is depicted boasting his own powers to his fellow army men. The names of the Kingdoms mentioned in the following lines are ancient and cannot be compared to modern countries/cities. It is mere translations from Kunjan Nambiar’s Ottanthullal.

Kingdom of Gandhara is a mere desert now
Simhala region is now a forest filled with lions and leopards,
The lord of Chera society now feeds himself on cheap vegetables,
Chola society King now has only maize to eat for,
King of Kuru has nothing but jackfruits to eat now,
Lord of Kashmir eats cucumber to satisfy his hunger
And so on,

We have a new category on “Kunchan Nambiar “ and we will keep adding his famous “Ottanthullal” to malayalampoems.com . So keep coming back for more and enjoy the ecstasy of his poems. Your valuable comments and feedback are very valuable to us and the encouraging to the author.

Read Kiratham–Ottanthullal by Kunjan Nambyar(1&2 Stanza)
Read Kiratham ottanthullal by Kunjan Nambyar(3rd Stanza)


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1 comment to Kunchan Nambiar-Father of Ottanthullal By Santhu

  • Ambily

    I think am just having some problems with subscribing to RSS feed here. However I love your blog and its content, one thing I wanted to mention is that Kunjan Nambiar is real good poet but I do not see his complete poetry. Please post his complete poem instead of parts.