This is the art of extempore story telling for three to four hours. It
is introduced into Tamil Nadu from Maharashtra by the Mahratta rulers
of Thanjavur. The exponent of this art commands a stage and audience by
his knowledge of many languages, by his scholarships in the epics and
by handling of Chappalakkattai (a pair of wooden planks) in one hand controlling
the movement and tempo.
The themes are drawn from the epics Meenakshi Kalyanam, Sita
Kalyanam and Rukmini Kalyanam are popular subjects. The dialogue is forcefully
mono-acted in a modulated voice to give the effect of light and shade.
The words and music roll as Krishna's chariot wheels at a terrific speed
in a high lilting rhythm to carry Rukmini away. In this act music plays
a very important role and unless it is carefully fitted and woven into
the very texture of the story the artist cannot produce the desired effect.
His success depends on the varied knowledge of a wide range of subjects
and the ability to create the necessary impact on the audience through
music gestures a sonorous voice, a mellifluous tongue, a deep study of
religious texts and folklore, a packing of interesting bits of latest
information into legends and a vast commands on words.