I met them – Kathakali artist Sukumaran and his companion – in (what I thought) was the unlikeliest of places – in one of the corridors of a luxury five star resort in Kasargod, Kerala. They were getting ready for a brief performance in front of some visiting foreigners.
I was in The Lalit Resort & Spa Bekal to spend a couple of days immersed in luxury and some peace and quiet (and celebrate our (wifey’s and my) birthdays while we were at it). Located on the banks of river Nombili, the resort has around 38 suites that come with a private jacuzzi in every suite. It also offers many activities including fishing, kayaking and cycling.
Back to Kathakali artist Sukumaran and his companion. The elaborate makeup session went on for close to 3 hours. So while they were getting ready for their performance, I sat around chatting with Sukumaran’s companion, clicking pictures of the process. I couldn’t help but feel pity for these artists who put in so much of effort sincerely for so many hours just for a frivolous 20 minute session. But then again, maybe it is these sessions that are helping such artists and traditional art forms survive. I asked Sukumaran’s companion how much they would get paid for this session, and he said: “I don’t know. We don’t ask for money—we just accept what they give.”
Leaving you with some photos I took of the makeup session.