Sri. Cherthala Kuttappakurup

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Sri. Cherthala Kuttappakurup
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Cherthala, kerala
Other namesKurup
OccupationKathakali Artists
  • Kunjunnikaimal (father)
  • Kalyaniamma (mother)
AwardsKerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi Award
Kerala Kalamandalam Award

Sri. Cherthala Kuttappakurup was born in 1914 at Karokkara Tharavad, Cherthala as the son of Kalyaniamma and Kunjunnikaimal. After his preliminary education, Kurup took to Karnatic music (Desi music)under Ezhikkara paramu Asan at the age of 14 for about seven years. Since his parents and respective families where conducting Kathakali Yogam, Kurup got attracted to Kathakali Music and became a regular student at the art. He was trained in Kathakali music scientifically by his paternal uncle Sri. Narayanakaimal who was himself a noted musician and later became a Shinkidi singer at the Kathakali yogam held by Govindakurup, his maternal uncle. Kurup had good fortune to learn Kathakali music from veteran artists like Narayana kaimal, Chembil pachupillai, Edappally Krishnapillai even during his early studying periods Later he had even gone to Sri. Madurai Ramaswamipillai for his higher studies in Carnatic classics . Attracted by the music style of Swarnathumani Embranthiri, who was a very popular kathakali musician in the northern part of Kerala he accepted Mani bhagavadhar as his GURU and mentor and learned the technics and nuances of rendering Kathakali music on the stages.[1][2]

Sri. Cherthala kuttappakurup learned from Mani Bhagavathar the peculiar style of singing with Harmonium as background and popularised the same in the southern part of Kerala Kathakali music .It's no exaggeration that the inspiration from such above noted artists including the Acharyas like Pattikkamthodi ravunni menon, Vazhemkada Kunchu nair. Sri kurup born amidst artist s themselves became an unrivalled exponent of Kathakali music of those days. Scientific to the core and blessed with an attractive and melodious voice kurup was held in high esteem and supreme for about forty years.[3][4]

It is reported that persons who heard him once would flock at any place and date where he was reported to take part in kathakali performance. Recalling an incident that at Thrikkariyoor temple after his musical concert Sri Madurai Mani Iyer came back to the stage, enthralled by the music of Cherthala kuttappakurup singing vandana sloka " Mathamgananam abjavasa ramaneem" in "Kedara gowla raga. Later after watching the programme , Madurai Mani Iyer showered praises on kurup ("Intha mathiri paduvor malayalanattilum irukka"? meaning - " do you have such amazing singers here at Kerala?) yet another incident of Sri kurups exemplary performance is of reciting Kamboji Raga and appreciation received by Rajaratnam pillai (renowned Tamil nadaswaram vidwan) at a Kathakali programme conducted at- Anandasramam in Kollam District while doing a performance. It will not be an overstatement if it is said that most of the young Kathakali musicians of those days except those hailed from Kerala Kalamandalam happened to be his disciple sometime or other.

Sri kurup had been the recipient of many prestigious awards including Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi Award in 1977, Kerala kalamandalam award in 1978 and a number of Puraskarams . He had also worked as music instructor at the Unnayi Warrier Smaraka Kalanilayam, Iringalakkuda, Ambalappuzha chembakasserry natyakalanilayam and Darpana Institute, Ahamedabad, run by Renowned artist Smt, Mrinalibi sarabhai . He had been the chief examiner of Viva voce in Kerala kalamandalam.[5]

Sri kurup in a way succeeded in framing a cult and style of his own (Bani) in the field of Kathakali music seldom attained by anybody else and it will be long if ever this cult is substituted.[6]

By about 1967 his voice failed due to a throat infection and unfortunately he had to retreat from the field even while at the pinnacle of his glory. He died in 1984 after a reception accorded to him by keraleeya kalakshethram , a newly formed Kathakali club at Alleppey on 1st April 1984. That was the master's swansong with co- singers like Kalamandalam Hyderali, Kalamandalam, Gangadharan , Kalanilayam Unnikrishnan and PD Namboothiri.[7]


  1. "Kathakali Artists - Cherthala Thankappa Panickar".
  2. "Kathakali". Religion-wiki.
  3. "Venmony Haridas All time Favorite Kathakali Music Artist to Remember".
  4. "Unnayi Warrier Smaraka Kalanilayam | About Kalanilayam".
  6. Kaladharan, V. (24 November 2011). "Monarch of melody". The Hindu.
  7. J, Veena S. (18 August 2015). ""IMPROVE YOUR KNOWLEDGE": Kathakali -classical Indian dance-drama". "IMPROVE YOUR KNOWLEDGE".

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