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Mani Madhava Chakyar (1899 – 1990)


Celebrated master performance artist and Sanskrit scholar from Kerala, India, considered to be the greatest Chakyar Koothu and Kutiyattam (2000 year old Sanskrit theatre tradition) artist and authority of modern times.
Mani Madhava Chakyar
“When i say Abhinaya, oh, I can't do the abhinaya like what the great man did here yesterday”
- Great Bharatanatyam dancer Balasaraswati next day after Chakyar's lecture-demonstration at Madras Music Academy in 1973.
Chakyar quotes
"The eyes of Kudiyattam has closed forever...the great lineage of Sanskrit theatre is adversely hit by the loss of this genious"
- K. P. Narayana Pisharoty (Kutiyattam scholar) in 1990, on the death of Guru Mani Madhava Chakiar.
Chakyar
“His eyes were the unrivaled wonder of Abhinaya”
- P.T. Narendra Menon (connoisseur of art), 1990




Chakyar Mani Madhava quotes
“(I got introduced to) the late and great Mani Madhava Cakyar’s King Udayana in Svapnavasavadatta. In what may have been among his last performances on the public stage I was fortunate to see Sri Cakyar, who at an advanced age, literally threw away his walking stick as he entered the stage to become a sprightly royal lover pining away for his beloved Vasavadatta. At his home in Likkadi he demonstrated the nava rasas... Sri Cakyar vividly illustrated to me that kutiyattam acting has the power to transform even the oldest person into the character he portrays”
- Prof. Farley P. Richmond (Expert on Indian theatre), Department of Theatre and Film Studies, University of Georgia.
Chakyar Mani Madhava
“Has the Centre ever considered the merits of a phenomenal Kudiyattam exponent like Mani Madhav Chakkiyar - true genius?”
- Leela Venkatraman- art critic, The Hindu, 1998
Mani Madhava Chakyar quotes
"Mani Madhava Chakyar's forte was Satwikabhinaya. Endowed with expressive eyes; that can speak a thousand moods and a countenance that can reflect the range of human emotions in its entirety, Mani Madhava Chakkiar was the master at work"
- Mani Madhava Chakkyar: The Master at Work (film), 1994
Mani Madhava Chakyar
“With a few movements of the eye, he could manifest the mountains, the ocean, the rivers, the moonlit valleys, torrential rain, the gait of the swan and the elephant, a tornado, the opening of the lotus flowers and a lot else. To see him do it was to know that he was a non-pareil”
- P.T. Narendra Menon (noted art critic and poet), 1990
Chakyar Mani Madhava quotes
"It is not the favourable conditions, but most deprived circumstances that mould an artist”
- about the struggles that he had undergone in his life as an artist.
Chakyar
“He had his own style. He could convey his thoughts through expressions. His eye movement was superb!”
Birju Maharaj- great Kathak dancer, selecting him as one of the ten finest dancers he has known, 2000
Chakyar Mani Madhava
“Mani Madhava Chakyar when he portrayed Arjuna on the first evening and Ravana on the second, showed himself a master of the expression of the eye”
- Dr. V Raghavan, renowned scholar of Sanskrit dramaturgy, classical Indian dance and music, connoisseur of art and former director of Samskritaranga- Chennai, 1962.
Mani Madhava Chakyar
“The depth of creativity of the author (Mani Madhava Chakyar) is evident from the introductory Shlokas (hymns in Sanskrit) itself ”
- Dr. Prem Lata Sharma (noted Hindi writer and scholar of Indian arts and literature)




Mani Madhava Chakyar quotes
"...Mani Madhava Chakyar, the overarching titan of 20th-century Koodiyattam, whose histrionic powers and focused scholarship eventually gave his art world-wide audience (and a Unesco recognition)"
- "The New Indian Express (2011)"
Mani Madhava Chakyar
“for 90 years” - On asking how much years he had studied Kutiyattam. He was 90 years then.
Chakyar quotes
"(Guru Mani Madhava Chakiar) began playing the dual role of Parvati and Shiva...sat on a wooden chair...I have never ever seen a Parvati so exquisitely beautiful. I have never seen a Shiva so handsome and so cunning. I sat there and wept as if I were alone in the presence of God. I then realized what theatre was all about — the falsehood of that old man made me arrive at a state where inhibitions and convictions, all became so fluid and beautiful. And this vision has remained with me always"
- Dr. Vijaya Mehta (Executive Director, National Center for Performing Arts- Bombay, acclaimed Indian theatre personality) about her experience of watching 72 year old Guru's Abhinaya of Parvativiraha
Chakyar Mani Madhava
“Eyes, what an eloquent pair he has! He is able to express with them even the slightest difference in the mood”
- L.S Rajagopalan (noted art critic), 1990
Chakyar Mani Madhava quotes
"To Guru Mani Madhava Chakyar, Kutiyattam was more than art, it was life itself"
- Mani Madhava Chakkyar: The Master at Work (film) - Kavalam N. Panickar, 1994
Mani Madhava Chakyar
“Late Shri. Cakyar, was not just a skilled exponent and a capable teacher of Kutiyattam, his wisdom and depth of knowledge made him worthy of the title "Acharya" ”
- Dr. Prem Lata Sharma (noted Hindi writer and scholar of Indian arts and literature), 1994
Mani Madhava Chakyar quotes
“His historic talent was backed up by extraordinary erudition. Behind his wizardry with the eyes lay sustained practice undertaken with devotion and discipline”
- L.S Rajagopalan (noted art critic), 1990
Mani Madhava Chakyar
“the greatest eye-wizard of the world!”
- Stella Kramrisch - Curator of Indian Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA, c1980
Chakyar Mani Madhava
“Mani Madhava Chakyar was performing sikhinisalabha... Butterflies fly all around. Some of them fell into the fire below. The anguish was reflected in the actor’s eyes. Ha! There they come out without a burn! What a relief! They came again. The actor continued the performance. Only his eyes move… The audience was spellbound. They did not know that an hour has passed!”
- About his world famous abhinaya of the shloka shikhinisalabha from Subhadradhananjayam.


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