The makeup of the performer is very important for any performance. Kathakali is one dance form that has very distinctive makeup and costuming, which can totally mould the dancer in that character. Here, you see a dancer wearing very elaborate aharyam and the makeup has totally transformed him into the monkey king for the performance. So many aspects of his makeup are remarkable. His facial colours, his eye makeup, the enhancement of his lips and the beard-like mask. This art of makeup is probably as old as the art of Kathakali itself. He goes about moving his very heavy, cumbersome costume and making strange expressions on his face.
This is Guru Sadanam P.V. Balakrishnan, one of the most renowned and established exponents of Kathakali today. A respected guru of the dance form for decades, he has added several new plays to the repertoire, written a book on Kathakali, travelled to over 25 countries and trained and guided several younger artists. Among his several awards is the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (2004). He took over as principal and chief artist of the International Centre for Kathakali in Delhi in 1980 after several years of performing and teaching. We spoke to him about the distinctive makeup in Kathakali, what it's made of, how it's done and how it helps in the performance.
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