Chenganoor Raman Pillai

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Guru Chenganoor Raman Pillai
Guru Chenganoor Raman Pillai, Kathakali artist.
Head of palace kathakali yogam to the Travancore Maharaja for 65 years.
Personal details
Raman Pillai

16 January 1886
pandanad, Chengannur, Kingdom of Travancore, British India
(now in Kerala, India)
Died11 November 1980(1980-11-11) (aged 94)
pandanad, Chengannur, Kerala, India
ProfessionKathakali artist, Kathakali teacher

Guru Chenganoor Raman Pillai, also spelt Chengannur Raman Pillai (1886–1980), was a celebrated Kathakali artist from Kerala in south India. He was known for his brilliant portrayal of the anti-heroic Kathi roles on stage, and was the head of palace kathakali yogam to the Travancore Maharaja in a career spanning almost 65 years.


Raman Pillai, born in Chenganoor on 16 January 1886, was a specialist in the Kathakali southern style called Kapplingad, which gives prominence to abhinaya (acting). He wrote Thekkan Chittayilulla Abhyasa Kramangal, considered one of the major training manuals on southern-style Kathakali.

He was a disciple of Thakazhi Kesava Panikker, Mathur Kunhupilla Panikker and Ambalappuzha Kunhikrishna Panikker. Another Kathakali master, Chennthala Kochupillai Panikker, helped him to gain popularity in his art.

Raman Pillai had his masterpieces in roles like Duryodhanan, Ravanan and Keechakan, Jarasandhan, Banan and Kamsan. He also performed as Hanuman, Hamsam and the black-bearded Kaatalan (woodsman).

Raman Pillai's leading disciples include Madavoor Vasudevan Nair, Haripad Ramakrishna Pillai, Mankompu Sivasankara Pillai, Guru Gopinath, and Chennithala Chellappan Pillai. They all studied under him as per the Gurukula system.

The documentary film Chenganoor Raman Pillai profiles his life and contributions. He died on 11 November 1980.

Awards & Honours

Padma Shri Award in 1971. He received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1963. [1]


Thekkan Chittayilulla Abhyasa Kramangal published in 1973.[ citation needed ]

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  1. "SNA Awardees' List". Sangeet Natak Akademi. 2016. Archived from the original on 31 March 2016. Retrieved 5 February 2016.