The literal meaning of Kathakali is story play. The dance drama depict scenes and events from Hindu mythology, typically from Ramayana and Mahabharata. The Kathakali artists wear heavy makeup and magnificent costumes to depict good and evil characters. Positive and negative characters paint their faces according to the characters they play. Large head dresses are instantly noticeable. The body language of the dancers are rigourous, nevertheless very graceful. Infact much flexibility is required in the body of a Katahakali performer. The orchestra of Kathakali generally comprises two drums known as the chenda and the maddalam, along with cymbals and another percussion instrument, the ela taalam. There are two singers in the group whose style of singing is categorised as Sopaanam.
Normally, the Kathakali performances is begun in evening and continues till the wee hours of dawn. Dawn, which is considered extremely auspicious is just perfect time to show the victory of good over bad powers of world. However, keeping in mind the busy routine of the modern society, much modification has been made in the dance forms. Now, you can view this fantastic dance drama within a span of two to three hours.