PALAKKAD: For the first time, Kerala Kalamandalam Deemed University has called for applications from girls for admissions to eighth standard in kathakali vesham -- Vadakkan (northern) and Thekkan (southern) styles. Till now, only boys have been admitted to the course.
As women excel in every field these days, the university executive board decided to admit girls also to the course from this year. There will be one batch of four students -- two boys and two girls -- this year. “If we get more applications, we will admit another batch of four students,” said Vice-Chancellor T K Narayanan.
Veteran kathakali artist Kalamandalam Gopi and heads of the Vadakkan Chitta Vesham Department and Thekken Chitta Vesham Department Kalamandalam Sooryanarayanan and Kalamandalam Sreekumar, respectively, were also in favour of it, he said.
Gopi, who is also a member of the executive board, told TNIE that there is a notion that boys and girls will not be able to perform together. “Moreover, for vesham, boys undergo “uzhichil” (massage) for flexibility. Therefore, girls were not enrolled in the course earlier. This time when the issue of admission of girls for vesham was broached, I told them to go ahead as an experimental measure. The board later met and endorsed it,” said Gopi. He said the experiment will be a success. “When girls are enrolled to learn thullal and koodiyattom, why keep them out of vesham in kathakali?” asked Gopi.
“Earlier, there was an allegation that the students were not being made to do “cholliyaattam” (recite and act) for ‘Nalacharitham Aattakatha’ at Kerala Kalamandalam. Then, it was I who suggested that the students be allowed to do that. Similarly, the admission of girls for vesham will be a success,” he added.
There have been a number of enquiries from girls for admission to the vesham course in the recent years, even as the number of boys seeking admission has dwindled. When the girls are admitted to eighth standard, they can complete 10 years in Kerala Kalamandalam and pass out with an MA degree, said Kalamandalam Soryanarayanan.