The traditional art of ‘Talamaddale’, a variant of Yakshagana theatre, has also gone virtual in times of COVID-19.
What is ‘Talamaddale’?
- Talamaddale is an ancient form of performance dialogue or debate performance in Southern India in the Karavali and Malnad regions of Karnataka and Kerala.
- The plot and content of the conversation is drawn from popular mythology but the performance mainly consists of an impromptu debate between characters involving sarcasm, puns, philosophy positions and humour.
- The main plot is sung from the same oral texts used for the Yakshgana form of dance- drama. Performers claim that this was a more intellectual rendition of the dance during the monsoon season.
- The art form is popular in Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Shimoga districts of Karnataka and Kasaragod district of Kerala. It is a derived form of Yakshagana—a classical dance or musical form of art from the same region.
- A typical Tala-Maddale show consists of veteran artists sitting in a circular fashion along with a Bhagavata (the singer, with “Tala” or pair of small hand cymbals) and a “Maddale” (a type of drum) player. Artists play the roles of characters in stories, typically, from Ramayana, Mahabharata, and other puranas. Some consider them as a good presentation of oratorial skills.
- Subjects of Tala Maddale performances normally focus on episodes from the Hindu epics of Bhagavata and Puranas. However, episodes have also been created on other more current issues, some of which include the Second World War, the Tashkent Agreement, the Indian freedom struggle (Swarajya Vijaya) and computerisation (Ganakasura Kalaga).
Difference from Yakshagana
- Unlike the Yakshagana performance, in the conventional ‘talamaddale,’ the artists sit across in a place without any costumes and engage in testing their oratory skills based on the episode chosen.
- If music is common for both Yakshagana performance and ‘talamaddale’, the latter has only spoken word without any dance or costumes. Hence it is an art form minus dance, costumes and stage conventions.