(Last Updated on : 07/08/2014)
Chennithala Cheliappan Pillai was the teacher of the Kaplingatu (southern) Kathakali School. He was born in Chennithala village near Mavelikara, Alappuzha district in 1924. He was the grandson of the famous Kathakali actor Chennithala Kochu Pillai Panicker
. He started preliminary lessons in Kathakali under the guidance of his grandfather, after whose death Chengannur Raman Pillai
became his preceptor in 1946. He had already debuted as Krishna at the age of 15. He excelled katti, kari, and minukku characters.
Chennithala Cheliappan Pillai's performances as the Hamsa or swan in Nalacharitam or 'Nala's Life', the Mantravadi or sorcerer in Nizhalkkuthu i.e. 'Stab in the Shadow', and the aboriginal hunters in Nalacharitam and Kiratam i.e. 'Hunter's Tale' were exceptional. After the demise of Kurichi Kunjan Panicker, Chellappan Pillai became the leading actor in the role of Hamsa. He was also very famous as heroes like Pushkara, Arjuna, Krishna, Rukmangada, and the sage Narada. He toured widely with the renowned troupe of Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore.
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