Kochi: They are twins and just eight years old. But Nadhu Krishna and Nidhu Krishna have already inscribed their names in the record books by being the youngest professional Ottamthullal artistes.
Their entry into the art form founded by legendary Malayalam poet Kunchan Nambiar was not just an accident . The family lives near the famous Chottanikkara Temple, where such traditional art forms are regularly performed.
“They grew up watching famous artistes like Jolly Mathew performing the art form and were very much impressed. They were determined to learn the art and finally I approached Jolly Mathew sir.
However, he sent me back saying that at age six, it was too early to learn thullal. But I had to approach him again as my children would not settle for anything less,” said their father, Pankajanabhan.
Finally Mathew relented. But the guru, who was born into a traditional Christian family and later became an accomplished performer, a revered teacher and a renowned choreographer, put forth a condition... that he would engage the boys for three days and assess their talents.
“We could not believe it when Mathew sir said he would train the boys for free. My children will have their ‘arengettam’ in a year’s time at the Pallipuram Iranikulam Kalathil temple,” he said.
It was also a first of its kind performance when the twins, students of the Georgian Academy in Tiruvankulam, staged the performance together. “Usually, only a single character is on stage. But it was Kalamandalam Prabhakaran Nair who suggested that we take up the experiment. They breathed life into the characters of ‘Hanuman’ and ‘Bheeman’ while staging ‘Kalyana Sougandikam’,” said the proud father.
“There’s no looking back now. We have been getting several calls asking them to perform,” said Pankajanabhan. However, studies are still the main priority and the parents don’t want the boys to miss class. “They practise for an hour every day. The next performance is at the Trikkakara Temple during Thiruvonam,” he said.
The boys who are in class three will stage ‘Panchali Swayamvaram’ at the Chottanikkara Temple on October 14 on the occasion of Mahanavami. They have an elder brother, Nandu Krishna, who has immense talent in drawing.