Early Life and Family of Ammannur Madhava Chakyar
Guru Ammannur Madhava Chakyar was born on May 13, 1917, into the Ammannnur Chakyar family, to Sreedevi Illodamma and Vellarapilli Madassi Manakkal Parameswaran Nambutiri, at Irinjalakuda in the Thrissur district of Kerala. His family was a hereditary Koodiyattam family and thus, he was initiated into the art form at the age of 7.
Training and First Performances of Ammannur Madhava Chakyar
Ammannur Madhava Chakyar trained rigorously in Koodiyattam under his two uncles Ammannur Chachu Chakyar, Ammannur Valiya Madhava Chakyar and Kidangur Rama Chakyar. His teacher in Natyashastra and Abhinaya was Bhagavatar Kunjunni Thamburan of the acting laboratory at the Kodungallor Royal family. He was taught Sanskrit by Kochikkavu Thampuratty and Manthitta Namboothiri.
His arangetram (debut performance) was at the age of 11, at the Thirumandhamkunnu Bhagavathi temple in the Malapuram district of Kerala, performing the role of Sutradhara in Bhasas 'Balacharitam'. At the age of 14, he gave his first performance at the Koothambalam (temple theatre house) of Vadakkunnathan Temple in Trichur, performing as Rama in 'Balivadham'. At the age of 16, he had his debut in Prabandha Koothu, with the ritual Kuduma Vakkal at the Puthiya Thrikkovil, located in Chendamangalam in Thrissur, Kerala.
Later Performances of Ammannur Madhava Chakyar
Associated as a performer with the Kutalmanikkam temple in his hometown, Ammannur Madhava Chakyar perfected all the major Kutiyattam characters. He has given many stellar performances and his histrionic abilities have left onlookers spellbound on many occasions. The maestros repertory of memorable roles include the following characters, followed by the plays in which they appear.
The complete text of 'Asokavanikankam' performed at Irinjalakuda, 25 years ago, was fully documented and is now a prized treasure in the archives of Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi.
Ammanur Madhava Chakyar was also instrumental in surpassing traditions, which saw the art form of Koodiyattam coming out of the confines of the temple walls, extending and being popularised across the nation. In the 1980s, he became one of the first Koodiyattam performers to present his art to international audience, visiting France in 1982, 1986 and 2001, England in 1982 and 1987, Switzerland and The Netherlands in 1987 and Japan in 1988. He instantly drew the admiration of the local audiences there. The great maestro also became part of another milestone, not only for Koodiyattam, but also for all other Indian art forms in the year 2001, in Paris. A Koodiyattam performance by Ammanur Madhava Chakyar was organised by the UNESCO, in honour of its selecting the ancient theatrical art form as a 'Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity'.
Ammannur Madhava Chakyar also prepared attaprakarams, which are acting manuals written for performance of a few plays and acts that the genre had lost. These include 'Attaprakaram - Kramadeepika', for three important acts of 'Acharyachoodamani,' namely Parnshalankam, Mayasitankam and Ezhamankam; Abhisheka Natakam for plays Hanumaddutam and Samudrataranam and Nangiar Koothu for Sree Krishna Charitam. After teaching at Kerala Kalamandalam and Margi in Thiruvananthapuram, he established the Ammannur Chachu Chakyar Smaraka Gurukulam, a training centre for Kutiyattam at Irinjalakuda in the Thrissur District, in his uncle's memory. He also became the central instructor for the Sangeet Natak Akademi's project to preserve Kutiyattam and was the Chief Resource person life long at Natanakairali - Research and Performing Centre for Traditional Arts in Irinjalakuda. Some of his disciples who are well-established performing artists include Moozhikulam Kochukuttan Chakyar, Ammannur Kuttam Chakyar, G. Venu, Usha Nangiar, Margi Madhu, Ammannur Rajaneesh Chakyar amongst others.
Awards and Recognitions received by Ammannur Madhava Chakyar
The master artist Ammannur Madhava Chakyar was bestowed the following awards and honours:
Ammannur Madhava Chakyar suffered from many serious health problems in his last years. On May 13, 2007, he celebrated his 90th birthday at his home at Irinjalakuda. Later his health deteriorated and he passed away in the early hours of July 2, 2008, aged 91.
Forms of Indian Theatre
Folk Theatre of Kerala
Classical Indian Dance Drama
Abhinaya, Indian Art Form
Indian Classical Dance
Koodiyattam, Folk Theatre of Kerala
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