Gurusmarana 2013 – Purusharthkoothu Mahotsavam, Tapati-Samvaranam Kutiyattam

23 06 2013


1st to 10th July 2013

Venue – Madhavanatyabhoomi, Ammannur Gurukulam, Irinjalakuda


Commemoration meeting

Inaugration : Adv.Thomas Unniadan (MLA, Irinjalakuda)

Guru Ammannur Madhava Chakyar Memorial Speech : Prof.G.Dilipan (Director, Natyasastra, ,


Chakyarkoothu : Pothiyil Narayana Chakyar, Kadambazhipuram


Vidushakan Purappadu : Ammannur Kuttan Chakyar


Vivadam : Ammannur Rajaneesh Chakyar


Vinodam : Painkulam Narayana Chakyar


Asanam 1st part : Margi Madhu


Asanam 2nd part : Margi Madhu


Rajaseva : Kalamandalam Rama Chakyar


Kutiyattam Tapati-Samvaranam 1st day

Vidushakan : Ammannur Kuttan Chakyar

Samvaranan : Pothiyil Ranjith Chakyar


Kutiyattam Tapati-Samvaranam 2nd day

Samvaranan : Sooraj Nambiar

Vidushakan : Ammannur Rajaneesh Chakyar


Kutiyattam Tapati-Samvaranam 3rd day

Samvaranan : Sooraj Nambiar

Vidushakan : Margi Sajeev Narayana Chakyar

Mizhavu : Kalamandalam Rajeev, Kalamandalam Hariharan, Kalamandalam Narayanan Nambiar, Kalamandalam Ravikumar   

Idakka : Kalanilayam Unnikrishnan

Talam : Aparna Nangiar, Kapila Venu, Saritha Krishnakumar, Keerthi Sagar, Gayathri Unnikrishnan, Archana Nandakumar

Make-up : Kalanilayam Haridas

Green Room Assistance : Anilkumar, K.R.Sankaran


The Death of Bali – part four – another photograph

10 07 2008

Bali on Angada’s (his son’s) lap. Bali – Ammannur Madhava Chakyar, Angada – Pothiyil Narayana Chakyar and Sugreeva – Ammanur Kuttan Chakyar. Photo by: Camilla Van Zuylen, Holland(1987).

The Death of Bali – Part three – text of the performance

8 07 2008

I wanted to to write a bit about the text and background of Balivadham(Act one of Bhasa’s play Abhisheka Natakam) for a better understanding of the previous posts on ‘The Death of Bali’.


Bhasa’s interpretations and characterisations are interesting. After being shot by Rama’s  arrow, Bali and Rama have a dialogue about Dharma – righteousness. No one can escape this scene without melting in their heart for Bali who was selfishly slain by Rama and that too from hiding.


Bhasa exposes Rama’s faltering when he is confronted by Bali wanting an explanation why his life was being ended. One finds Rama not being able to give a single reasonable answer to Bali’s questions. Below I have given a translation of the last part of the play from when Bali has been shot by Rama.


Brief description of the plot:

Rama(the hero of Ramayana)’s wife Sita has abducted by King Ravana. Rama(who is a prince in exile) sets out to find her along with his younger brother Lakshmana.


Mean while, Bali, the mighty monkey King of Kishkintha, the land of the monkeys is challenged to a dual by a demon/magician Dundhubhi. They fight inside a cave for days and nights. Bali’s brother Sugreeva waits for him outside the cave. Dundhubhi, with his magic makes Sugreeva believe that Bali has been defeated and killed. Sugreeva closes the opening of the cave so that Dundhubhi may not escape, goes back to the Kingdom and  takes over the throne and the queen.


Bali after killing Dundhubhi, realises that the cave has been shut from outside by his brother. He misunderstands that his beloved brother has tried to cheat him. Enraged he goes back to the kingdom, throws his brother out and regains the throne.


Sugreeva flees for his life and lives in hiding. During this time he meets Rama and they make a  deal to help each other by which Rama would kill Bali so that Sugreeva would become King again and then Sugreeva would help to find Rama’s wife. Rama follows Sugreeva to Kishkintha. Sugreeva and Bali engage in a dual during which Rama shoots Bali from a hiding place.


Quoting from the text:

Lakshmana: See Bali with his strong arms lies with his body split by the arrow and covered all over with blood. His red eyes are cast downwards as if he is getting ready to go to Yamaloka.


Bali, lies unconcious for some time and soon regains conciousess and reads the name ‘Rama’ inscribed on the arrow. The he addresses Sri Rama.


Bali: Alas! reputed as you are for your kind and gentle nature and for your righteousness, today you have soiled that reputation by killing me falsely from ambush. O’ noblest of the race of Raghu, you are a hermit wearing Jata(matted hair) and Valka(dress made of tree bark), but your mind and action are not in consonance with the nature of a hermit. When I was engaged in a fight with my brother, it was adharma(wrong, unlawful) on your part to kill me staying hidden behind a tree.


Rama: How do you say that killing from ambush is adharma?


Bali: What doubt is there about it?


Rama: No. it is not adharma. Look, animals are killed by laying nets or snares for them, the man remaining in ambush. You deserve to be killed and you are an animal. So I have punished you remaining hidden at a distance.


Bali: Do you think that I deserve to be punished or killed?


Rama: What doubt is there?


Bali: For what reason?


Rama: You have taken a woman as your wife whom you had no right to take.


Bali: Among us (monkeys) it is quite right and lawful to take another’s wife.


Rama: You are the Emperor of Monkeys with a good sense of Dharma and Adharma. Was it right on your part to behave like ordinary monkeys and take to yourself your brother,s wife?


Bali:  In the matter of accepting one’s brother’s wife, Sugriva and I are equally guilty. But you have punished me but Sugreeva is left unpunished.


Rama: That is because you deserve to be punished. One does not punish the innocent.


Bali: Listen, oh Rama. Sugriva took my wife; I am his elder brother. So if I take his wife, how do I become guilty and punishable?


Rama: Because it is never right for an elder brother to take his younger brother’s wife.


Bali: I have no reply to make. But by being killed by you I have been freed from all sins.


Rama: So be it.


Sugreeva: What a painful and pitiable sight! Oh, greatest of monkeys, you used to walk like an elephant and your arms are like the trunks of elephants. My heart seems to break when I now see those arms lying in the dust with their shoulder rings all scattered by the enemy’s arrow.


Bali: Sugreeva, this is destiny, fate, wordly dispensation.


Tara(Bali’s wife, whom bali and sugreeva ‘take’ from each other)’s voice from backstage – Alas, Alas, His majesty!!


Bali: Sugreeva, don’t let the women come here. It is not desirable that they should see me in this condition.


Sugreeva: Your highness’s orders will be carried out. Hanuman, see that it is done.


Hanuman: As the prince commands.


Hanuman exits and re-enetrs bringing Angada (Bali’s son) with him.


Hanuman: Angada, this way, this way.


Angada: Overcome with sorrow on hearing the news that the Emperor of monkeys is dying, I have come here walking with faltering steps. O’ Hanuman, where is the Emperor lying?


Hanuman: Look, there the emperor lies with his heart pierced by an arrow. He lies there like the Crouncha mountain when it was felled and shattered by Lord Subrahmanya’s trident.


Angada(going near Bali): O’ Maharaja, you, the noblest of the monkeys, were for long unequalled in strength and prowess and lived enjoying all the pleasure of the world. Oh, great Hero, what a painful sight it is to see you rolling in the dust now, with your mighty limbs deprived of all strength and movement! Are you desirous of going to heaven, throwing away this body torn with the arrow?


Bali: Angada, don’t be sorry

Sugreeva, forget all the wrongs that I have done. Now that you going to become the King of Monkeys, give up all anger and bitterness towards me, rule the kingdom according to Dharma and receive him(Angada) who is an ornament to our race.


Sugreeva: As the Maharaja commands!


Bali: Listen Rama, please forgive us for all our wrongs, considering them only to be the pranks and freaks natural to monkeys.


Rama: Yes, I shall do so.


Bali: Sugreeva, accept this Hemamala(golden necklace) which is the heirloom of our race.


Sugreeva: I am blessed!


Bali: Hanuman, get me some water.


Hanuman: As your majesty commands.


Hanuman makes his exit and then re-enters.


Hanuman: Here is water.


Bali: (after performing achama, a purification of the body with water)


I feel my life ebbing. I see the sacred rivers like the Ganga before me. Divine damsels like Urvashi approach me. Here is the chariot drwan by a thousand divine swans, sent by Yama, the god of Death, to transport me to the heaven of the heroes.

Let it be, here, here I come..




All say together: Alas! Alas! Maharaja!!


Rama: Alas, Bali is dead and he has attained heaven. Sugreeva, perform his funeral rites.


Sugreeva: As the Lord orders, so it will be done.


Rama: Lakshmana, perform the coronation ceremony of Sugreeva.


Lakshmana: As brother orders, so it will be done.


                                                                All exeunt.

The Death of Bali – Part two – Photograph

8 07 2008

Guru Ammanur Madhava Chakyar as Bali and his nephew/disciple Ammannur Kuttan Chakyar as Sugreeva in the death scene. Photo by: Camilla Van Zuylen, Holland(1987).

The Death of Bali – Part One

7 07 2008

Perhaps my earliest memory of ashaan’s(ashaan is how we address the master the malayalam, in this case Guru Ammannur) performance is that of Balivadham. I remember as a little girl being taken to a Bali vadham performance that went on and on into late night. I clearly remember saying to my mother “.. amma, wake me up when Bali starts to die..” and falling asleep. I also remember that she did wake me up to watch that scene.

In my mind, and in many others’ Bali is synonymous with Ammannur Madhava Chakyar. I am one of those who, blinded with admiration,  would declare that there had probably never been a greater Bali and will probably never be another one like him.

But I say this not merely out of emotion and nostalgia. It is a fact that the potrayal of Bali, specifically the death of Bali is certainly one of Guru Ammannur’s masterpieces.

I am taking the liberty to put an excerpt from my father’s(G.Venu) book – Production of a Play in Kutiyattam – which is based on Balivadham (Act one of Bhasa’s play Abhisheka Natakam).

This is from the foreword written by Ammannur himself:

“I have modified slightly the enactment of Bali’s death. I was emboldened to do this because of the training from Bhagavatar Kunjunni Thampuran of the Royal family of Kodungalloor. I went to Thampuran, who had done deep research in the art of drama, to learn the art strictly according to the principles laid down by Bharatha. I was his student for two years. He taught me also the minute details of climacteric breathing. This particular training took about forty days. The various svasas – the Kshudraka, Tamaka, Cchinna, Mahaan and Urdhvan – are controlled, one after another appropriately to make the death throes realistic. This is the essence of my modification”.

There are several interesting points in this quote that expalin exactly why Ammannur’s Bali was unique. One must note that Ammannur ashaan, after completing his basic training under his uncles in the traditional line, went to Bhagavathar Kunjunni Thampuran for a higher understanding and specialized training in abhinaya(the art of the actor,technique of ,acting) and Natyashastra(the great Indian Treatise Theatre ascribed to Sage Bharatha). Thampuran, a member of the Royal family of Kodungalloor was a great scholar and actors’ trainer. He had an actors’ laboratory in Kodungalloor where he gave specialzed training based on his research to few select performers . He inspired Ammannur to develop the technique of involving breath in abhinaya. They worked intensely on different scenes and particularly the death of Bali. The actual secrets of their collaborative work process was never revealed to another person.

Therefore, after this training Ammannur’s Bali became exclusive. He deviated from the traditional pattern(which was a very bold innovation in his time) and elaborated the death scene. I have strong memories of long death scenes that lasted up to 45 minutes.

After watching Balivadham in England in 1982(the performance presented was an edited version of the original play), Kenneth Rea wrote in ‘The Guardian’ –

“…Chakyar’s death scene in the play Balivadham was unforgettable. When he eased the arrow from his chest, some of the viscera came out too. It was a quiet, agonising death, like an animal fighting to stay alive, one of the bravest and most outrageous pieces of acting I have ever seen. Who else would take 15 minutes to die on stage and get away with it?”.

Will be continued with a photograph…

Guru Ammannur Madhava Chakyar passes away..

3 07 2008

Guru Ammannur Madhava Chakyar breathed his last on 1st July 2008, aged 92… for minutes after he left his body all nature seemed to hum in unison a sacred song to bid farewell… we all feel the sudden vaccum created by his physical absence.. his sparkling eyes that remained so until the very last moment…

He had been bed-ridden for almost a year now and suffering from Alzhiemers over a long period of time. Everyday re-winding into the past … He was going back on a journey through every stage – old age, mid age, youth, childhood and finally became a baby again… We all selfishly wished he would remain with us forever and ever…  but when the time comes there is no choice but to let go…

I always felt that he is the sun that shines on our lives… all who were around him – disciples, artistes, colleagues… he was the centre of our world… and words cannot express the depth and intensity of each of our personal experiences and feelings at this moment…