Honoured by UNESCO as a ‘masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity,’ Kutiyattam, the time-tested ancient classical theatre form of India is perhaps best identified through some of its ardent practitioners in the league of Mr. Ammannur Madhava Chakyar. Born to a family with commendable tradition in Koothu and Kutiyattam, Ammannur has played a significant role in popularizing the art form in Kerala, and also to take its fame, beyond the shores of Kerala.
Since his initiation into Kutiyattam at a young age of 11, which he did so under the tutelage of the virtuoso and Uncle Ammannur Chachu Chakiyar. Through his learning and later in his career as an accomplished performer of Kutiyattam, Ammannur strived to set higher standards to comprehend and master the intricacies of an art form, with a heritage of over 2000 years.
Ammannur was a rare combination of a superb performer and an equally superb guru. A patriarch of Kutiyattam, his amazing feats of histrionics have left many an audience spellbound. By breaking tradition, Ammannur was instrumental in taking Kutiyattam out of the temple precincts, which gave majority of the public, a chance to see and appreciate the traits of a true master. His eyes conveyed the subtle changes of expressions with lan, and his gestures with the hand brought forth the language of the soul.
Winner of Padma Bhushan (2002), Citation by UNESCO recognizing Kutiyattamas as "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" (2001), Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1979), Padma Shri, Government of India (1982), Fellowship, Kerala Kalamandalam (1988), Kalidas Samman, Government of Madhya Pradesh – (1992), Fellowship, Sangeet Natak Akademi (1996) and many more recognitions came the way of this master performer. Venues inside and outside Kerala have witnessed this octogenarian’s sterling performances and had taken him to countries like France (1982, 1986, 2001), England (1982, 1997), The Netherlands (1987), Switzerland (1987), and Japan (1988).