Kattaikkuttu knows different styles, which appear to be confined to specific regions. Differences are found in costumes, ornaments, make-up, music, singing, dance steps, movements, the prominence of female characters, in addition to differences in scripts and repertories of plays. We do not know enough yet to be able to say what exactly defines a particular style.
Two styles of Kattaikkuttu, in particular, have come to the limelight since the introduction of the theatre to urban audiences in the 1950s. The Perungattur style headed by actor, director and playwright P. Rajagopal, son of C. Ponnusami, who, prior to the establishment of the Sangam, used to run his own theatre company based in the village of Perungattur in the Tiruvannamalai District. There are a number of Kattaikkuttu companies which perform in the Perungattur style. The students of the Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam are trained in this style.
The Purisai style represented by two different companies, both based in the village of Purisai, also in the Tiruvannamalai District: one headed by actor and director P.K. Sambandam Thambiran, youngest son of Purisai Kannappa Thambiran, and the other headed by Purisai Subramaniya Thambiran, son of Natesa Thambiran.
The Perungattur style of Kattaikkuttu is known for its elaborate, emotive musical style, intricate footwork and high performance energy. This style requires that, ideally, a student learns all roles during her/his basic training â€” male, female and Kattiyakkaran (clown) â€” before specializing into a specific type of character. P. Rajagopal is the principal exponent and Vattiyar (Guru) of the style. He has introduced, for the first time in the history of this theatre, fully-trained girls and young women in Kattaikkuttu's all-night performances.
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