Natana Gramam – The Meeting Place For Tradition, Innovation And Technology
The plans envisioned for this cultural village, which should turn real within a year, would certainly elevate the position of Trivandrum as one of the culturally rich cities in the country | Mukesh Venu
On Dec 06, 2011


Guru Gopinath was a legendary personality who was instrumental in making 'Kathakali' - a dance form restricted to temple venues inside the state – gain popularity in the outer world. An even bigger contribution made by this great artist was in the creation of a modern dancing style called 'Kerala Natanam', which brought together the  various mudras and facial expressions in 'Kathakali' with selected elements from other dance forms like 'Mohinayattam' and 'Koodiyattam'.

The words of praise that Rabindranath Tagore had for Guru Gopinath were as follows:  “Shri Gopinath is a real artist and I am sure there are not many who could rightfully take their stand by his side, either in India or abroad.”

His death came on stage, while enacting the role of King Dasaradha, in his famous ballet 'Ramayana', on October 9, 1987, at Fine Arts Hall, Eranakulam. The place where he ran a school of dance at Vattiyoorkavu was taken up by the state government in 1997 and was renamed Guru Gopinath Natana Gramam. Dr. Pramod V S is the secretary of this cultural institution currently managed by the Department of Culture.



“Kerala Natanam is now a major event in youth festivals held in the state,” says Pramod. “Learning this dance form is a bit more difficult when compared to other dance forms, yet it has strongly cemented its place as one of the most popular dance forms to have evolved from the state.”

Guru Gopinath Natana Gramam is situated on 2 acres and 3 cents of land. Classes for all varieties of traditional dance forms are conducted at this cultural village.



“The aim is to promote all art forms, with special emphasis on Kerala Natanam. This is a centre for the universal promotion of arts.”


Other features include an amphi theatre and a museum dedicated to Guru Gopinath. The cultural village offers a one-year certificate course and a three-year diploma course, both offered at Rs. 200 per month.

“The only qualification required is talent,” states Pramod. Currently, there are about 250 students learning almost 50 different forms of art at Natana Gramam.



So much about the present, but what would make this place truly an exclusive cultural centre in its own right, lies in its future plans. Right now, a new building which will house a '4D' theatre, dance library and a research centre is being constructed here. The work is budgeted at Rs. 6 crores and expected to be completed in a year’s time.

Promod V S details the highlights of this new venture being made by the Department of Culture: “The proposed theatre will consist of several features that would surpass the technical brilliance offered  through 3D effects; and that's why it's called a '4D' theatre. The seats inside the theatre would be moving ones, so, if the visual on the screen takes a sudden jerk or a slow turn, the seats will move accordingly. Suppose the character steps foot on water, air would be pumped through vents built into the bottom of the seat to have the viewer feel the coolness of water splashing over his feet. If a garden is shown on screen, air carrying matching scents would be pumped to create a realistic atmosphere of being in the garden. The theatre will be the first of its kind in the city and is an attempt to provide a complete sensory experience to the viewer, expect that of taste.”



The dance library too promises an entirely new experience to the visitor.

“Instead of having tall shelves with wide rows stacked with thick books, which could be very dull for a casual observer, the new dance library would instead, have a picture of a particular dance form attached to the walls. In front of each such picture, would be a sheath in the shape of an umbrella. A person who needs to know about the dance form shown in the picture would be required to stand beneath this sheath and press the button to the side of the picture. All information related to the dance from would then be explained to the person in a language of his choice made from a given list. At the same time, the pictures too would change in accordance to the explanation, to give him excellent information  about the particular dance form. The important feature is that another person standing outside the sheath won't hear one word of what is being narrated. So in essence, the library would still remain in silence.”


The same idea and concept is envisaged at the research centre too, says Pramod.


The project is expected to be completed in one year. If everything goes according to plan,  the people of Trivandrum could welcome in a new era of cultural integration and knowledge. A lot can change in one year at the rate by which the city has been speedily transforming into a prominent hub in the IT, educational sector, and cultural sectors. And of  utmost importance is the fact that the name of Guru Gopinath would continue living in the hearts and mind of the general public in this city and beyond.  

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