skip to Main Content

Currently In Post Production

THEYYAM Gods Heroes and Ancestors

India. Current
HD 1920/1080

Cultic and ritualistic arts have always exerted a great influence on the social life in India, especially Kerala, the home of a myriad range of performing traditions.
Prominent among these is the ritualistic art form of Theyyam.

During two months of the year, regardless of caste, social function, income, gender and age, people attend Theyyam performances to seek blessings, ward off evil spirits, cure disease, have a healthy child-birth, settle disputes, and gain advice and prosperity from the Gods,

 

 

The depth, vitality, mystery, and pageantry of a Theyyam ceremony are breathtaking and spectacular.  Few Westerners have captured its beauty and power.

Theyyam is a unique and ineffable amalgam of myth, religion, ritual and folklore, mimes and chants that for thousands of years has had an enormous influence on the society and culture of Kerala, a state in southern-most India on the Malabar Coast.

To see a Theyyam ceremony is to believe it. That is the only way to begin to approach, or at least attempt to imagine, the transcendent state that its players and participants are able to achieve. To merely read about Theyyam is to miss its true import. Words alone are woefully insufficient to bring such a vibrant and living ceremony to life.

The Theyyam rituals, once deemed as spirit worship or pagan feasts by colonialists, are deeply rooted in folk tales of the villages. When Sanskrit came into these remote regions of South India and Hinduism became the main religion, the original spirits of the dead took the forms of some of the most powerful Gods in the Hindu pantheon, mostly Shiva, Kali and Vishnu.

Through these associations and re incarnations, the marginalized and low castes classes managed and succeeded in claiming a space for themselves, without ceasing asserting their social links with the land of their ancestors.

Read More
My partner Christian Germon and I, along with a local crew, spent a month in the jungle of the district of Kannur to film twelve Theyyam rituals.  Many took place in the middle of the night and continued for days without pause.

Some resulted in extreme exhaustion and burnt feet, and in my case, severe dehydration case.

Filming a Theyyam ceremony is often as much a feat of endurance as it is a technical and logistical challenge.  It goes on and on…and never stops.

By following one of the principle Theyyam performers — a man named Jayanadan K.P — the film will provide an intimate look at some of these Theyyams and the complex preparations and rituals that surround them.

Jayanadan’s family can claim many generations of actors.  The weight of that responsibility is evident, as is the studied discipline and intensity in which Jayanadan assumes his role. We’re allowed to witness his transformation, as his persona rises to the status of a God.

Once Jayanadan’s detailed preparations are accomplished, we are plunged into another world, one that is both surreal and supra real, bordering on the hallucinogenic.  You have no choice but to go with the flow.

You truly feel you are exploring something that goes behind the mirror of the human psyche.

Beneath the action, however, we are reminded that the ancient codes and aesthetics must be honored.

Thus, Jayanadan allows us into his home where we meet his family, and where he offers many fascinating glimpses about his practice.

It is a genuine and moving personal account of the power of Theyyam to take hold of one’s psyche, and it further reveals why Theyyam is still a magical and redeeming journey for everyone who has the privilege to see it.

Back To Top