Ottamthullal is the most popular traditional dance form of Kerala which is filled with humour. Seethankal Thullal and Parayan Thullal are other forms of Ottanthullal. Ottamthullal was first introduced by the great poet of Kerala, Kunchan Nambiar. Ottamthullal has a simple make-up when compared with Kathakali. Scholars say that thullal is a modified form of Koothu.
It is said that when a Koothu was staged, Kunchan Nambiar was the Mizhaavu artist. In the middle of the play, Nambiar dozed off and forgot to play the mizhaavu. The Chaakyar got angry with Nambiar and humiliated him. Nambiar wrote a poem and staged the Ottamthullal the next day in the same temple. Some scholars disagree with it. They say that such an art form cannot be formed overnight.
Ottamthullal is a solo performance of an artist who tells a story in a humouristic style. The language of this story is pure Malayalam. The song of Ottamthullal has greatly influenced the literature of Malayalam language. Today Ottamthullal is staged during temple festivals.
The attracting factor of Ottamthullal is that the performer himself singing and playing the story, which is a difficult task. Another person will recite the same verses. The accompany instruments for Ottanthullal are Mridangam and Idakka. The popularity of Ottamthullal continues undiminished even today.