Kunchan Nambiar (1700 –1770) hailed from Killikurissimangalam in Palakkad district and brought up in the erstwhile Travancore State was the most popular poet of Malayalam literature. Poetic genius, scholarship and artistic brilliance blended in the creative personality of Nambiar. Kunchan founded the semi-classical dance form Thullal in the mid-eighteenth centuary. There is a popular legend that Kunchan formulated this dance form to make a vengeance against Chakyar who ridiculed Kunchan for playing Mizhav in the Koothu performance in a wrong way. The incident was at Ambalappuzha when Chempakasseri Devanarayana Raja ruled and patronised poets and artists to a large extent. Kunchan left the stage of Koothu and in the same night he composed a poem and performed it in the Thullal Dance form the very next day in the temple premises. It attracted the audience and the Chakyar lost his regular audience. The Chakyar complained the misdoing of Kunchan and the King ordered not to perform Thullal in the temples thereafter. This story is only a legend and belief. But if Kunchan Nambiar composed Kalyana Saugandhika by one night it is a Sitankan Thullal and not Ottan Thullal. Without any clean evidence it cannot be said whether he framed Thullal poetry and dance within a short period or not and if at all it is correct which Thullal he composed first.
Kunchan composed more than 45 Thullal poems and more than ten non-Thullal works of great importance in the history of Malayalam poetic literature. There are Ottan, Sithankan and Parayan thullal forms framed by KunchanNambiar. The Dravidian word ‘thullal’ means up and down movements. There were other thullal forms like Padayani Thullal, Bharatam Thullal, Komaram Thullal etc. Kunchan used the technique of Chakyarkoothu and certain folk performances prevalent in the Middle Travancore area. Out of the three thullal forms, Ottan is the most sophisticated and refined one compared to Paraya and Sitankan. ‘Krishnarjuna Yudham’ Pampan Thullal is supposed to be a Thullal work of pre-Kunchan Nambiar period. But there is no evidence for its performance.

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