Padma Bhushan (Dr.) Guru Ammannur Madhava Chakyar (May 13, 1917 – July 2, 2008) was a master of Kutiyattam, the classical Sanskrit theatrical form indigenous to Kerala. He is best known for taking the performances from the temple sanctuaries where they were formerly confined and making them public events.
Guru Ammannur Madhava Chakyar was born into the Ammannur Chakyar family to Sreedevi Illodamma and Vellarapilli Madassi Manakkal Parameswaran Nambuthiri on 13 May 1917. Many of his family members were well known as practitioners of Kutiyattam.
He was initiated into Kutiyattam at the age of 7 and trained rigorously under his two uncles Ammannur Chachu Chakyar and Ammannur Valiya Madhava Chakyar as well as Kitangur Rama Chakyar[who?] His arangettam (debut performance) was at the age of 11 in the Bhagavathi temple at Thirumandham Kunnu, performing the role of Sutradhara in Balacharitam (a play by Bhāsa). At the age of 14, he gave his first performance at the Koothambalam (temple theatre house) of Vadakkunnathan Temple in Trichur. At the age of 16, He had his debut in Prabandha Koothu with the ritual Kuduma vakkal at the Putiya Trikkovil [clarification needed], Chendamangalam. After completing his basic training in the traditional style, he went for higher training in Abhinaya and Natya Shastra under Bhagavathar Kunjunni Thampuran[who?] at the acting laboratory supported by the Kodungallor royal family. He also studied the Sanskrit language under Vidushi Kochikavu Thampuratty and Vidvan Manthitta Nambuthiri.[who?]
In the 1980s, he became one of the first Kutiyattam performers to present his art to an international audience. He visited France and England in 1982, Switzerland and The Netherlands in 1987 and Japan in 1988.
Ammannur suffered from many serious health problems in his last years. On May 13, 2007, he celebrated his 90th birthday at his home at Irinjalakkuda. Later on, his health detoriated and he finally died in the early hours of July 2, 2008. He was aged 91.
Repertory Highlights (major characters followed by the plays in which they appear)