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Friday, May 4, 2012

GURU CHENGANNUR RAMAN PILLAI

Guru Chengannur Raman Pillai was a celebrated Kathakali artist, Kathakali trainer and writer.He wrote a
very useful book in the name 'Thekkan Chittayilulla Abhyasa Kramangal' which is used as a reference book
by those are interested in this art form,researchers and Kathakali students.For classical dance students also that
book is a valuable one.
Chengannur Raman Pillai was born on 16 Jan 1886 at Vanmazhy in Chengannur.He was a disciple of Thakazhi
Kesava Panikker,Mathur Kunju Pillai Panikker ,Ambalappuzha Kunjikrishna Panikker etc and mastered in all aspects of Kathakali acting.
There were no training Institutions during those period to teach Kathakali or any other art forms but the aspirants had to stay with the instructor (Guru) till they equals their Guru in perfection.Then the disciple may approach another Guru to seek more if that Guru knows more or they are specialist in any variety.Thus by studying under three or four Gurus Chengannur Raman Pillai became an efficient expert in this field.
'Guru' second from left in front row
Even though the disciple is well trained they need to have some brilliancy of their own to earn much fame
because in Kathakali  during intervals of singing the versus by the singers and time given for only percussion instruments 
the actors has to perform their own ideas  using their brain.By watching the 'mudras' and  expressions the audience
will understand what is being done or what is being  conveyed.This is known as 'Ilakiyattam' and some actors earn
very much fame because of their skillful  talents in this regard.Guru Raman Pillai was an expert in this field.
More over Chengannur Raman Pillai was very much energetic to visualize the characters like 'Duryodhana,
Ravana,Bana,Jarasandha,Kamsa etc which are all Villainous Characters (Kathi Vesham) and he used to
dance and act fantastically well to suit those cruel characters.He handled other roles also like Hanuman and Hamsam which
also received appreciation.He gained much applause for his role as 'Kattalan' who is Lord Shiva in disguise that  comes to test and to

Guru Raman Pillai (sitting)

minimize the ego of 'Arjuna'  before blessing him and presenting the 'Pasupathastra'.
Guru Raman Pillai was lovingly called as 'Raman Pillai Aasan'.
His disciples includes Madavur Vasudevan Nair,Haripad Rama Krishna Pillai,Mankombu Sivasankara Pillai and
Chennithala Chellappan Pillai.They all stayed in his house for several years to get trained in Kathakali dance.
Guru Chengannur Raman Pillai was the Palace dancer to the Travancore Maharaja.
On his 84th birthday  it was celebrated as a grand function at 'Navarathri Mandapam of Chengannur Mahadeva Temple' as  'Guru Chengannur Janma Sathabdi Celebration' in which many dignitaries attended  and a magazine containing all
achievements in his life was published and distributed to the audience.That event was in 1970.
Guru Chengannur Raman Pillai died on 11 November 1980.

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