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Heli Tourism

Enchanting Kerala


ISSUE: 236

APRIL 2013

Mattannoor Sankarankutty

For Sankarankutty music is something innate. Music got in to his nerves from his forefathers, who were the privileged percussionists of the Mattannoor temple in the village of Mattannoor in Kannur district. Sankarankutty inherited music and rhythm from his parents. Today, the village and the temple are known to the outer world for the unmatched talent of this great doyen of chenda (a south Indian percussion instrument).

Mattannoor Sankarankutty's first guru was his father Kunjikrishnan Marar. Having learned the first lessons from his father, little Sankaran started playing chenda by the age of seven. Sankarankutty's talents were first recognized by one of his cousins, who took him to Gandhi Sevasadanam, Peroor, for taking lessons in Kathakali chenda.

There he underwent rigorous training in thayambaka and Kathakali chenda under Pallassana Chandramannadiar and Sadanam Vasudevan. The former helped him imbibe the quintessence of tradition, while the latter kindled in him a spirit for experimenting. But very few know the fact that he has also been trained in edakka under Pattarath Sankara Marar at the Thiruvambadi Temple in Thrissur. When he stepped out of Sadanam, Sankarankutty had become an expert in almost all the temple music rituals like sopanasangeetam (a form of Indian classical music that developed in the temples of Kerala).

Sankarankutty's performances are fascinating displays, marked by his powerful left-hand strokes. For him, each and every performance is an emotional opening for self-expression. Though well versed in traditional school of music, he is always open to experimentation that has made him sensitive to modern sensibilities in percussion music. His unparalleled skills have helped him befriend some of the maestros in the field like Pallavoor Appu Marar and his brother Maniyan Marar. Sankarankutty's collaboration with mridangam wizard Umayalpuram Sivaraman has given many unforgettable moments for music lovers.

This great master of rhythm was honoured by the Government of India with the Padmashri award in the year 2009. He has also bagged prestigious awards like the Kerala Sangeet Natak Akademy Award and the Kerala Kalamandalam Award. With his mastery in tradition and the spirit of experimenting, Mattannoor Sankarankutty has elevated the aesthetics of Kerala's percussion to greater heights.

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