Kavungal Chathunni Panicker

Last updated

Kavungal Chathunni Panicker
Died27 November 2007
Erumappetty, Thrissur, Kerala, India
OccupationClassical dancer
Years active1936-?
Known for Kathakali
Awards Padma Shri
Sangeet Natak Akademi Award
Kerala State Kathakali Award
Kerala Kalamandalam Fellowship
Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi Fellowship
Gujarat Sangeet Natak Akademi Award
A Kathakali performer Kathakali BNC.jpg
A Kathakali performer

Kavungal Chathunni Panicker (1922-2007) was an Indian classical dancer, known for his proficiency in Kathakali, the traditional dance form of Kerala. He was an exponent of the Kavungal School of Kathakali (Kavungal Kalari), noted for its rigorous training methods [1] and overt physical interpretation of abhinaya. [2] He is known to have brought innovations to the dance form, especially in the decorative movements (kalasam) [3] and his contributions are reported in the development of grammar and costumes for the Kavungal School. [4] A recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1973, [5] Panicker was honored again by the Government of India, in 2006, with the fourth highest Indian civilian award of Padma Shri. [6]



Secondary characters were criticised often by Kathakali scholars, they attained the significance of perfected lead roles when Chathunni Panicker handled them, writes K. P. S. Menon, renowned art historian. [7]

Kavungal Chathunni Panicker was born in 1922 in the small hamlet of Thichur, near Vadakkancherry in Thrissur district in the South Indian state of Kerala. [8] [9] He started learning Kathakali in 1933, at the age of eleven, under the tutelage of Sankara Panicker, his uncle, where he stayed for three years and later under Katambur Gopalan Nair. His debut performance was in 1936 at the age of 14. [1] In six years time, aged 20, Panicker formed his own troupe. [2] [9]

In 1947, Panicker and his troupe rendered a performance in Ooty, a hill station in the state of Tamil Nadu where he had the opportunity to meet Vikram Sarabhai, Indian scientist and his wife, Mrinalini Sarabhai, renowned classical dancer and the founder of Darpana Academy of Performing Arts, Ahmedabad. [2] The next year, Panicker received invitation from Mrinalini Sarabhai to join the institution as its principal. He accepted the offer and stayed with Darpana till his retirement in 1985. [1] [2] The association assisted him to travel with the group, perform at various countries around the world and associate with the group's experimental productions such as Manushyan. [1] [9] He continued his kathakali performance during his stint at Ahmedabad and is known to have had several notable performances such as Hanuman in Kalyana Saugandhikam and Thoranayudham, Raudrabhima in Duryodhana Vadham and Kattala (Hunter) in Nalacharitham and Kiratham. [1] [2] [9] [10]

After returning to Kerala, he tried to found a school for kathakali, but suffered a stroke which incapacitated him, leaving the effort unfinished. [2] [10] [11] Chathunni Panicker died on 29 November 2007, succumbing to illnesses that dogged him for three months, at a hospital in Erumapetty, near his native village of Thichur, leaving his wife, their two children [1] [2] [10] and many of his disciples. [12]

Awards and recognitions

Chathunni Panicker received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award from the Government of India in 1973. [1] [2] [5] [10] [11] [13] This was followed by the Gujarat State Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and Kerala Kalamandalam Fellowship. [1] [2] [10] [11] Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi Fellowship in 2003. [1] [10] [13] [14] The next year, in 2004, he received Kerala State Kathakali Award from the Government of Kerala. [1] [2] [10] [11] Panicker, who is reported to have been presented an amulet and medal by Jawaharlal Nehru, former Prime Minister of India, [11] was included in the Republic Day honours list by the Government of India, in 2006, for the civilian honour of Padma Shri. [1] [2] [10]

See also

Related Research Articles

Guru Kunju Kurup (1881-1970) was one of the most famous Kathakali artistes to have born and celebrated in south Kerala, and gained popularity in central and north Kerala as well.

Mani Madhava Chakyar

Guru Mani Madhava Chakyar (15 February 1899 – 14 January 1990) was a celebrated master performance artist and Sanskrit scholar from Kerala, India, considered to be the greatest Chakyar Koothu and Koodiyattam artist and authority of modern times. He was considered as the authority of Abhinaya and Nātyaśāstra.

Mrinalini Sarabhai

Mrinalini Vikram Sarabhai was an Indian classical dancer, choreographer and instructor. She was the founder and director of the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts, an institute for imparting training in dance, drama, music and puppetry, in the city of Ahmedabad. She received many awards and citations in recognition of her contribution to art. She trained over 18,000 students in Bharatnatyam and Kathakali.

Adyar K. Lakshman was a noted Indian Bharatnatyam dancer, choreographer and guru.

Kanak Rele

Kanak Rele is an Indian dancer, choreographer and academic best known as an exponent of Mohiniyattom. She is the founder-director of the Nalanda Dance Research Centre and the founder-principal of the Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya in Mumbai.

Ramankutty Nair

Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair was a performer of Kathakali, who practiced the Kerala art form for more than seven decades.

Guru Kelu Nair was a renowned Kathakali dance artist and teacher.

Kalamandalam Kallyanikutty Amma was an epoch-making Mohiniyattam danseuse from Kerala in southern India. A native of Thirunavaya in Malappuram district of the state, she was instrumental in resurrecting Mohiniyattam from a dismal, near-extinct state into a mainstream Indian classical dance, rendering it formal structure and ornamentation.

Sadanam Krishnankutty

Sadanam Krishnankutty is a cultural artist and a popular performer of Kathakali, a unique classical dance-drama form of Kerala, South India. A recipient of Kerala State Kathakali award and Kalamandalam fellowship, he is reputed for his skill in donning a wide range of characters in his acts. He received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2007.

Darpana Academy of Performing Arts is a school for performing arts in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, established by Mrinalini Sarabhai and Vikram Sarabhai in 1949, it has been directed by their daughter Mallika Sarabhai for the last three decades. The school organises a three-day Interart, the "Vikram Sarabhai International Arts Festival" at Ahmedabad, every year. It celebrated its golden jubilee on 28 December 1998, with the announcement of the annual "Mrinalini Sarabhai Award for Classical Excellence", in the field of classical dance.

Mayadhar Raut

Guru Mayadhar Raut is an Indian classical Odissi dancer, choreographer and Guru.

Shanta Rao was a notable dancer from India. She studied and performed Kathakali, Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi.

Kalamandalam V. Satyabhama was an Indian classical dancer, teacher and choreographer, known for her performances and scholarship in mohiniyattam. She is regarded as a matriarch of the classical dance form. She was also well versed in other classical dances of Kerala. She was awarded the Padma Shri, in 2014, for her contributions to the art and culture, by the Government of India.

Madras Kadiravelu Saroja, is an Indian classical dancer, known for her expertise, as an exponent and as a teacher, in the classical dance form of Bharatanatyam. The Government of India honored her, in 2011, with the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award, for her services to the field of art and culture.

Geeta Mahalik Indian Odissi dancer (born 1948)

Geeta Mahalik is an Indian Odissi dancer. The Government of India honoured her Padma Shri in 2014 for her services to the field of art and culture.

Bharati Shivaji is an Indian classical dancer of Mohiniyattom, choreographer and author, known for her contributions to the art form by way of performance, research and propagation. She is the founder of Center for Mohiniyattam, a dance academy promoting Mohiniyattom and the co-author of two books, Art of Mohiniyattom and Mohiniyattom. She is a recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and Sahitya Kala Parishad Samman. The Government of India awarded her the fourth highest civilian honour of the Padma Shri, in 2004, for her contributions to Indian classical dance.

Kalamandalam Gangadharan Musical artist

Kalamandalam Gangadhran was a prominent Kathakali musician from Kerala. His unique tenor and accent has earned him a large audience both within and outside Kerala. He was the most prominent disciple of Kalamandalam Neelakandan Nambeesan, and the Master of the many later generations of Kathakali Musicians. He was a visiting professor at Margi, an organization dedicated to the revival of Kathakali and Kutiyattom, two classical art forms of Kerala. In 2006, he was honoured by the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.

Vedantam Satyanarayana Sarma (1935–2012), popularly known as Satyam, was an Indian classical dancer and choreographer, considered by many as one of the leading exponents of the classical dance form of Kuchipudi. He was known for his portrayal of female characters such as Usha, Satyabhama, Deva Devi, Mohini, Sasirekha and Gollabhama (Gollakalapam). He was a recipient of several honors including Kalidas Samman, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship. The Government of India awarded him the fourth highest civilian honour of the Padma Shri, in 1970, for his contributions to Dance.

Kailash Pandya, a distinguished theatre artist, winner of numerous national awards, was born in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India. He was actively associated with the Indian People’s Theatre Association, Mumbai from 1943 to 1948. From 1949 to 1957, he worked with Jaishankar Bhojak aka Jaishankar Sundari at Nat Mandal, Ahmedabad, and in 1958 attended the Asian Theatre Institute in Delhi. He also learnt Kathakali from Guru Vazhenkada Kunchu Nair and Bhavai from Guru Chimanlal Nayak.

Mathoor Govindan Kutty was an Indian Kathakali artist from the state of Kerala. In a career spanning over six decades, he specialized in Kathakali Stri Vesham, the portrayal of female characters on stage. He was the recipient of the 2011 Kerala State Award for the best Kathakali artist and the 2005 Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for contributions to the Kathakali art form.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "Kathakali exponent dead". The Hindu. 30 November 2007. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "Charismatic portrayals". The Hindu. 23 December 2007. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  3. "Your Article Library". Your Article Library. 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  4. Unnikrishnan, Hiran (1 October 2013). "Book set to relive glorious past of Kavungal artistes". Deccan Chronicle. Archived from the original on 27 December 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  5. 1 2 "SNA". Sangeet Natak Akademi. 2014. Archived from the original on 30 May 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  6. "Padma Awards" (PDF). Padma Awards. 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  7. K. P. S. Menon (1997). A Dictionary of Kathakali. Orient Longman. p. 80. ISBN   978-8125012320.
  8. Ananda Lal, ed. (2011). "Panicker, Kavungal Chathunni". TheOxford Companion to Indian Theatre. Oxford University Press. ISBN   9780199861248 . Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  9. 1 2 3 4 "Bhavalaya". Bhavalaya. 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Narthaki Obituary". Narthaki. 2007. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 "The last from the Kavungal clan". The Hindu . 16 August 2004. Archived from the original on 27 December 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  12. "Cyber Kerala". Cyber Kerala. 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  13. 1 2 "Narthaki". Narthaki. 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  14. "Akademi fellowships announced". The Hindu . 18 January 2004. Archived from the original on 21 December 2016. Retrieved 27 December 2014.