Porattunatakam is a rural art form of folk theatre popular in Palakkad district. An interfusion of dance, music and satire, the performance of this folk drama is a blend of humourous dialogues, dance steps and interesting songs.
The play will be performed specially made stage either in temple premises or in paddy fields. Kelikottu, a special orchestra with chenda and ilathalam, is conducted prior to the performance. Dasi, Mannan, Mannathi, Cheruman, Cherumi, Chakkiliyan, Chakkilachi, Kavara, Kavarachi, Thottiyan, Thottichi, Kuravan, Kurathi, Kushavan, Pookkari, Mappila, Mappilachi and Mathoochi are the major characters performed in Porattunatakam. Characters of female are played by male itself.
There will be a questioner, common to all performances and the drama is under the control of this questioner who acts the role of an intermediary between the players and audience. Dressed in colorful costume and rhythmic footsteps the questioner along with other performers begins the play with sthuthigeetham (prayer song to god/goddess). Usually the performance will last for one hour and ends with a prayer. Besides Palakkad, porattunadakam can be seen in a few areas of Thrissur district.
Porattu, a similar art form of Porattunadakam, is commonly performed as a comic interlude in various tribal and folk art forms. The name porattu was derived from the regional meaning of the term as “an additional piece of performance”. The porattu or its variations can be seen in performances like Theyyam, Kaliyoottu, Mudiyettu, Kontranpattu, Kanyarkali, Ivar Nadakam, Chavittu Nadakam, Kothamooriyattam, Kurathiyattam, Patayani and so on. Poorakkali also have porattu characters. In Kaliyottu, the porattu comes as Paradesi, Brahmin and Kudiyan; in Velikali as Maliyon, Mappila and Yogi and in Kanyakali as Kuravan, Kurathi, Mannathi, Parayan, Chakkiliyan, Kudiyan, Naikan, Pamabatti. And the Kooli in Mudiyettu can be considered as Porattu.