The possibility of presenting the subtle facial expressions and detailed mudras for which Mohiniattam is famous? "I can't jump around like a frog to show my energy," she quips, emphasising, "The methodology will change, but you can't destroy the soul." The mukhaja abhinaya, conveying expression using the face and eyes, for which she is known, she reserves for limited spaces.
Hasthalakshanadeepika, the ancient Sanskrit classical text on the dances of Kerala, mentions 24 basic mudras or hand-gestures, which are in use in the classical dance dramas of Kerala. Mohiniyattam, in particular, uses them.
They [Attaprakaram of Nangiarkoothu] opened a treasure trove of mudras employed in this art form that could be traced to the ‘Hasthalakshanadeepika'.
After the exercise of the feet and the legs, the head and eyes, one learned the hand gestures, the mudras or hastas . There are 28 basic gestures for one hand and 24 basic gestures for both the hands....Each hand gesture has its own use.
The aesthetics and the artistry of Bharata Natyam alike make us realise that sringara has pride of place here. In a sense, Bharata Natyam is a combination of the yoga and mantra sastras. The mudras of the mantra shastras are the same as the hand gestures of Bharata Natyam.Balasaraswati