Early Life and Training of Margi Sathi
Margi Sathi was born in the year 1965 into an Embranthiri Brahmin family at Cheruthuruthy in Thrissur, Kerala, to Puthillathu Subramanyan Embranthiri and Parvathy Andarjanam. She was an exceptional entry into the world of Koodiyattam, which is customarily performed by the Chakyar community. She began learning Koodiyattam at the age of 11, at Kerala Kalamandalam under the eminent master of the art Guru Painkulam Rama Chakyar, a legendary artist and teacher who took the revolutionary step of opening up the doors of Koodiyattam to students from non-Chakyar families. He was also instrumental in taking this temple art beyond the confines of its traditional performance spaces and inviting a larger and secular audience to experience its riches. Margi Sathi was one of the early beneficiaries of the Painkulam revolution. Sathi was also fortunate to learn from the masters of all three major schools that dominated the learning of Koodiyattam back then. Apart from Painkulam Rama Chakyar, she was also taught by Mani Madhava Chakyar and Ammannur Madhava Chakyar, both exceptional performers and masters of the art. It was under Mani Madhava Chakyar that she underwent advanced training in eye movement. In her performances, the experts saw the confluence of styles of all the three masters.
Post her marriage with late Edakka maestro N. Subramanian Potti, she moved to Thiruvananthapuram and joined the Margi dance institute, in the year 1988. It was her association with Margi that shaped her destiny and gave her a distinct identity, along with the epithet Margi in her name. At Margi, she was encouraged by scholars like D. Appukkuttan Nair.
Career and Performances of Margi Sathi
Margi Sathi’s efforts went a long way in actualising the potential of Nangiar Koothu as an independent art form. Her radiant face and deeply affectionate mannerisms disarmed even her professional rivals. Apart from India, she has performed Nangiar Koothu, the feminine solo version of Koodiyattam as well as the female roles in Koodiyattam in countries like France, Spain, USA, Germany, Italy and Switzerland. Her last performance was at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris in October 2001, before a specially invited assembly of more than 500 guests from all over the world, to mark Koodiyattam’s proclamation by UNESCO as a World Heritage Art.
Margi Sathi’s uniqueness as a performer was that she refused to confine her career only to the stage, and went on to make a robust contribution as an academician. She wrote a text - ‘Sree Rama Charitham’, and then its performance manual for Koodiyattam. It was a significant achievement considering that Koodiyattam as a performance tradition had largely been a male preserve. She also wrote the Nangiar Koothu stage enactment manual for the same, titled ‘Sree Ramacharitham Nangiarkoothu’, which was published in Malayalam in 1999, with an appendix on Nangiar Koothu in English by Ayyappa Panikker. She also went beyond traditional texts and even interpreted modern poems in the language of Koodiyattam. Her other stage presentation works include ‘Sitayanam’ (2008) and ‘Kannakicharitham’ (2002). Another significant contribution of hers was to adapt ‘Chilappathikaram’, the Tamil epic from the Sangam era, for the Nangiar Koothu stage.
Margi Sathi has also acted in Malayalam movies ‘Swapaanam’ (2014), ‘Ivan Megharoopan’ (2012), ‘Making of a Maestro’ (2010), ‘Raamaanam’ (2010), ‘Drishtaantham’ (2007) and ‘Nottam’ (2005). While filming for the Koodiyattam based movie ‘Nottam’, her husband died of electrocution on June 30, 2005. However, she fulfilled her husband’s wish by essaying the female protagonist in the movie in full, to critical acclaim. After her husband's death, Sathi was soon appointed at the Kerala Kalamandalam, as a faculty for Koodiyattam based on a first-of-its-kind order by Kerala State Government, where she continued to teach till the end.
Awards and Recognitions received by Margi Sathi
Margi Sathi's contributions to the world of performing arts have been widely recognised and she had earned several accolades in appreciation of her work.
Death of Margi Sathi
Margi Sathi passed away at the Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) in Thiruvananthapuram, on December 1, 2015, after a prolonged battle with cancer. She was admitted to RCC a week before her death, after her condition worsened. She is survived by her two children, Revathi, a teacher and a Koodiyattam artist, and Devanarayanan, an Edakka artist and Bachelor of Arts second year Sanskrit student at Pattambi Sanskrit College, Kerala.
Forms of Indian Theatre
Folk Theatre of Kerala
Classical Indian Dance Drama
Koodiyattam, Folk Theatre of Kerala
Sangeet Natak Akademi
Guru Ammannur Madhava Chakyar
Guru Painkulam Rama Chakyar
Mani Madhava Chakyar
Edakka, Percussion Instrument