Career and Contributions of Painkulam Rama Chakyar in Koodiyattam
Born in the year 1905 in Painkulam village in the Thrissur district of Kerala, Painkulam Rama Chakyar was a maverick Koodiyattam artist. From 1925 onwards, he had performed the theatrical art in regular programmes in various temples and religious places spread all over the state. He was also one of the leading master performing artists of Koodiyattam, who are credited with first bringing this fine and sophisticated art outside the temples and closer to general audiences. He had directed, supervised and participated himself in more than 100 Koodiyattam plays, which were edited and condensed by him for better understanding of the contemporary audiences, without affecting the artistic integrity and authenticity. He had more than 1000 stage appearances in different roles, besides being a regular participant in the All India Radio programmes. He had successfully produced and staged the 2nd Act of ‘Sakunthalam’, 3rd Acts of ‘Naganandam’ and ‘Jadayuvadhanam’ in ‘Ascharyachoodamani’. He had also supervised and participated in the production of a colour documentary film on Koodiyattam, in 1974. His edited version of Sanskrit play ‘Bhagavadajjukam’ of Bodhayana, was one of his best productions.
When the Kerala Kalamandalam introduced Koodiyattam in its curriculum, Painkulam Rama Chakyar was invited to head the faculty. Well known all over Kerala as a maverick, he therefore fully supported the institutionalization of Koodiyattam and encouraged aspirants from all the communities to study and practise Koodiyattam and Koothu. Besides being an artiste, Chakyar was a scholar and ‘sahridaya’ (connoisseur), who made the first successful attempt to synchronize the acting in Koodiyattam with the music of Mizhavu, the main percussion instrument used in the art’s enactment. As a performer in the enactment, Rama Chakyar was at his best in the role of the Vidushaka. Verbal acting was his forte and humour was his passion.
Painkulam Rama Chakyar had devoted his entire life to Koodiyattam and mentored some of the talented artists to carry on the tradition. He, along with his troupe at Kalamandalam, toured Europe and the US several times and presented Koodiyattam to the western audience, thus bringing international recognition to this ages old Indian folk theatre art form.
Other Endeavours of Painkulam Rama Chakyar
In 1980, Painkulam Rama Chakyar was also the first one to spread international awareness on Chakyar Koothu. He has boldly brought Koothu as well outside the temple precincts of Kerala. He had also mentored a few European students and had been facilitated by them in leading his troupe on a European tour, including countries Germany, France and Poland. This was made possible by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations and their European counterparts.
Death of Painkulam Rama Chakyar
A vegetarian, Painkulam Rama Chakyar sustained himself mainly on fruits during the European tour in 1980. A diabetic, it affected his health and on the 41st day of his return, on July 31, 1980, he passed away.
Forms of Indian Theatre
Folk Theatre of Kerala
Classical Indian Dance Drama
Indian Classical Dance
Koodiyattam, Folk Theatre of Kerala