Over the years, Attakkalari has undertaken in-depth research into teaching methodologies in Indian performing arts traditions. Notions of knowledge creation and sharing, transfer of aesthetic sensibilities and the process of forming gestures, body lines and movement as cultural symbols, as well as the role of breath, focus and music in accentuating and augmenting the experience of movement, have come under the scope of these studies. The knowledge of these independent projects led to a major research project, nagarika.

The project compiles and categorizes movement sequences of two specific Indian movement traditions – the first DVD in the nagarika series supported by the Daniel Langlois Foundation and the Goethe Institut focused specifically on the Kalakshetra style of Bharatanatyam.

This second DVD focuses on the Northern style of Kalarippayattu, the martial art form that primarily originated in the northern districts of Kozhikode and Kannur in the present-day state of Kerala, located in the south-western tip of India. There used to be several Kalarippayattu styles, but the three major styles that prevail in contemporary times are the Northern, Southern and Central styles. The DVD focuses on the Northern style of Kalarippayattu. A style invariably evolves according to the geographical location, influence of religious and caste practices, as well as beliefs, shaped by the socio-economic power structures existing among the communities of the region. Even though some of the practitioners of the Northern style have moved to other parts of Kerala the style of their Kalarippayattu schools remains Northern. The DVD features students and masters from Hindustan Kalari (Puthiyara, Kozhikode), Choorakkody Kalari (Chelavoor, Kozhikode), C.V.N Kalari (East Fort, Thiruvananthapuram) and EPV Kalari (Kaduthuruthi, Kottayam).

The DVD is the outcome of a three year research project “Rediscovering the Kalarippayattu Spectrum” supported by Ford Foundation. By providing a window to Kalarippayattu and its practitioners through the easily accessible format of an interactive DVD it is hoped that artistes and practitioners will be able to delve into tradition and revitalise the form with new ideas, besides developing platforms for discussion and exploration on different aspects of the form.



The DVD is divided into four chapters – Mura or movement sequences, Adavu or movement units, Explanations of the Muras, and Contextual Information.

Mura covers the basics of Kalarippayattu training (Adisthanam) which includes postures, stances, jumps and leg exercises. Mura also includes Meithari or body sequences, weapons training – Kolthari (wooden weapons) and Angathari (metal weapons) – and Verumkai or bare-hand combat.

In the chapter on Adavu we have attempted to break the movement sequences in Mura into smaller units.

In the chapter Explanation, the Muras are explained by Gurus from different Kalaris.

The chapter Contextual Information contains short documentaries, articles by scholars and diagrammatic representations.

Movement sequences are not normally divided into movement units (Adavus); it is a construct created by us to better understand the movement sequences.

We have extracted the Adavus from the Mura or larger movement sequences for a detailed understanding of the manner in which they are performed.