Evening Sun vanishing in the sweet gold of western horizon....Divine forms step out into the luminous lap of the Queen of Arabian Sea.Watch them float. Watch them roar. Watch them love, fight, and cry in an art form that's more refined and more colourful than any other performing art in the world, KATHAKALI, the stately dance of Kerala. Kathakali make-up is the the slow metsmorphosis of mortals into immortal deities and demons.
A lengthy affair, the process takes two-three hours to complete. Doing the facial using natural pigments like manayola, actors turn themselves into mythical being step-by-step. And as the brilliant head-gear fixed on their human heads, they become larger tahn life realities. ELEMENTS of the art of Kathakali are believed to have been gradually developed in Kerala from early as the 2nd century until the end of the 16th century. Kathakali as an individual style of dance-drama emerged as a 'people's theatre’ from the traditional dances of the past.
Kathakali as we now see it therefore dates back to about the time that Shakespeare was writing his plays. The performances given in Malabar at that time by troupes of actors were formed by and enjoyed the patronage of the local Rajah's and other noblemen (especiallycially the Namboodiris, or Brahmins of Malabar) must in many ways have been similar to the Masques which were in vogue in England in the 16th and 17th centuries, in which masked performers acted and danced, developing into a form of drama with music, then Kathakali has passed through many stages of improvement in make-up and costume, dance forms and acting techniques.