Ottam Thullal is a kind of solo-dance in which one actor adorning colourful costumes recites dance songs to the accompaniment of drums and cymbals. The origin of Ottam. Thullal is traced to an unhappy incident alleged to have taken place in the Natakasala of the Krishna temple, Ambalapuzha, towards the end of the 18th century. The story is that Kunjan Nambiar who was beating the mizhavu during a Koothu performance produced a wrong note and that he was rebuked by the Chakiar in the presence of the audience.
Qttam Thullal originated from an attempt which had started much earlier to provide entertainment to the unsophisticated non-Brahmin audiences who had no access to the Koothambalams where Koothu and, Kodiyattam were performed. It may be noted in this context that two special types of dance, viz., Sitankan Thullal lad- Parayan Thullal .were being performed in the nearby Sastha temple at Takazhi during the annual Patayani festival in Medam (Apru-May) with a view to providing entertainment to the less literate sections of die people. The Ottam Thullal of Nambiar was only an improvement on the above two dance forms and before long it developed into die most popular folk art in the temples of Kerala, providing entertainment to large sections of people. The late Malabar Raman Nair, a leading exponent of the art was the originator of a new and more attractive style in Ottam Thullal.