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MOOZHIKKULAM KOCHUKUTTAN CHAKKIYAR- KOOTIYATTAM EXPONENT

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Submitted by UMAMAHESWARI on Sun, 2007-01-28 22:10.
He was only 14 while staging “Ganapathiprathal” at the Elamkunnu Subramaniaswami Temple for Makarasankranthi. Exponents of Kootiyattam recognized a spark in him that would grow into a floodlight of reform. He grew beyond that and became the beacon light of Kootiyattam.

Moozhikkulam Kochukuttan Chakkiyar was in the city recently to receive the honor bestowed on him by Margi and Drisyavedi. In an interview this octogenarian talks about Adiyantharakoothu, his masters, the gurukaula system and his renowned disciples like Margi Sathi. It was he who introduced Nirvahanam by female characters.
His vachikabhinaya, was an exquisite allegory of Indian life, narrated in simple, forceful, direct, seasoned with racing humor.

Moozhikkulam Kochukuttan Chakkiyar (Parameswarn) was born in the traditional family of Kootiyattam performers. He had his initial lessons from the family members and had advanced lessons from Kidangoor Chakkiars. Kallangara Ksharathu Narayana Pisharodi taught him Sanskrit.
“In those days Adiyanthira Koothu was more. It really helped to revive the art form”
How?
We have Adiyanthira Koothu, Kazhcha Koothu, and Vazhipadu Koothu. The last two were meant for the public. But Adiyanthira Koothu provides absolute freedom to the artistes. Vadakkumnathan temple, Irinjalakkuda Koodal Manikkam temple, Annamanada Mahadeva temple, Kottiyur Mahadeva temple had regular Adiyanthira Koothu. I had performed in all these temples and gained experience. As the chakyar family of Irinjalakkuda belongs to the charcha I stayed there and performed in all temples where they have the right to do so” he said. If he had bothered to list out the number of stages, we would find him in the Guinness book of records!
His mission was different. In his childhood days Kootiyattam was on the verge of extinction. He wanted to revive it. That was a period when the then kootiyattam artistes thought twice to impart knowledge of Kootiyattam to their children. Kochukuttan Chakiar initiated his children Madhu and Narayanan into Kootiyattam. A bold step indeed!!
It was Painkulam Rama Chakkiar who staged Kootiyattam out side Koothambalam for the first time in 1948. Kootiyattam was never staged full. It is so elaborate that it would take days-Mantarnakam for instance-it would take 41 days! Nirvahanam is the prelude to Kootiyattam. Here one of the characters sums up the story presented. This would take many days. It is done by Vidhooshaka. He explains the inner multiple meanings to the audience which demands lengthy abhinaya. He expounds the famous purushartha the four ultimate attainments in human life peppered with satires on follies and foibles of human life. He talks in local parleys which increased viewership. Later Sanskrit poets composed exclusive prabhandama for the Vidhhoshaka known as Prabhandakoothu. The chakkiars executed the role of the media men. None can question their criticism. (That is why Ammannur family left Pattambikulam and settled in Thirumoozhikkulam.) He had staged Ramayanam Prabhnadam koothu for three mandalams that is 123 days. Kochukuttan chakkair was a Vidhooshaka exponent. He never hesitates to essay minor roles.

Kochukuttan Chakkiyar joined Margi in 1981. Ammannur Madhava Chakkiyar was the tutor. He composed attaprakarams for certain portions of Acharyachudamani. It was Kochukuttan Chakkiyar who trained his students and staged them. He staged chudamani till EZHAMANGAM Bharatavakyam. “I was paid Rs.250/. We were five. I never complained” he said. He trained Margi Sathi and Usha who have staged maximum number of female characters. He choreographed Parnasalangam, Mayaseethangam, and Agnipravesangam of the Achryachoodamani. What he had learned can be staged continuously for 180 days!

Nirvahanam of Chedi Kalpalathika (Subhadradhananjayam) is spread over 237 slokams. Kochu Kuttan Chakkiyar, made it into 30 chapters. It requires 30 days (3 hours per day) and trained Sathi.
That genius is akin to madness. His mission was to revive Kutiyattam, and he could redeem this art form, into the popular one as we see today through nishkamakarma. He was conferred with Kendra Snaggetha Nataka Academy Award and Kalaratnam title by Keralakalamandalam.
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