Margi : Since inception, Margi has transformed itself into a prestigious institution for the sustenance and growth of centuries old performing art forms like Kutiyattam and Kathakali. Here, the traditional Indian teaching practice called the Gurukula (in-house) system is followed. The center holds regular performances, in its own theatres or outside, if requested.
Started in 1970, as a society, Margi drew inspiration from its founding fathers Mr. D. Appukuttan Nair, Mr. T. N. N. Bhattathiripad, and Mr. K. V. Kochaniyan. Among the trio, Mr. D. Appukkuttan Nair, was a noted author of several Attaprakarams (Choreography) articles and books on Kathakali, and also the architect of ‘Koothambalams’ (traditional performance theatre) at Kerala Kalamandalam and Kala Kshetra.
The name ‘Margi’ in Sanskrit means pursuit of aesthetic values, which are universal and everlasting. In its early days of functioning, Margi was responsible for staging classical Indian theatre Arts, not commonly staged in Thiruvananthapuram. These included traditional presentation of Bharatha Natyam, Mohiniyattam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Manipuri, Kathakali, Koodiyattom, Chakiar Kooothu, Arjuna Nritham, Mudiyettu, Vedic Music, Thevaram, Hindustani classical music; etc. most of them, for the first time in the city of Thiruvananthapuram.
Margi is managed by a committee of leaders of culture and art lovers, working on a voluntary basis. There are associate members, including those from US and the countries of Europe etc., interested in this or related fields.
In 1974, the Margi centre for Kathakali was started for training artistes in the true Gurukula style, with the teacher and students staying together all the time under the same roof. The first Chief Guru was the renowned Kathakali maestro, Mankulam Vishnu Namboodiri. In 1980, all time great Padmashree Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair joined Margi as Chief Guru and taught in Margi till his demise in 1990.
In 1981 the Kutiyattam centre was started with Padmashri Ammannur Madhava Chakiar as visiting professor, Moozhikulam Kochukuttan Chakkiar as resident Guru and three students Raman, Madhu, and Narayanan Sajeev as students. Kalamandalam Unni Krishnan Nambiar was the Chief Guru of the percussion department, who taught Mizhavu, one of the oldest percussion instrument, associated with ‘koothu.’
Some of the renowned artistes associated with Margi in the field of acting include Mr. Inchakattu Ramachandran Pillai, Ms. Margi Sathi, Mr. Margi Vijayakumar, Mr. Murali, and Mr. Balasubramaniam. Noted musicians including Mr. Krishnankutty, Mr. Damu, Mr. Nandakumar (Vocal); Mr. Krishna Das, (Chenda-drum); Mr. Retnakaran (Maddalam, drum), Mr. Somadas (Make-up and stage) are also associated with the institution.
International recognition for Kutiyattam was a turning point in the endeavours of Margi. It was Margi’s initiative that saw Kutiyattam being proclaimed by UNESCO as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Margi maintains a system known as ‘Kaliyogam’ or a performing group staying together all the time. The Chief Guru is always a senior and well-accepted master of the art form. The key function of a ‘Kaliyogam’ is to have variety in its repertoire so as to sustain interest in the art.
Margi has two art centers, one for Kathakali and another for Kutiyattam. Each serves a triple purpose, viz. a roof under which the students and the Guru stay together in Gurukula fashion, a space for teaching and a mini theatre for regular performances. These art centers also attract students and scholars from Kerala and outside. These centers have done pioneering work in reviving as well as revitalizing Nangiar Koothu, Kathakali and Kutiyattam and in the documentation and publication of books.
The Margi troupe has performed extensively in several countries from 1980 onwards. They include Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Germany, Japan, U.K., Italy, U.S, France, Spain, etc.
Margi is today reckoned as one of the premier institutions, which over the years has dedicated to the cause of performing arts of Kerala. It has virtually become the abode to so many artistes, and has helped many to attain high levels of artistic excellence.
Fort, Thiruvananthapuram- 695023
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