Kalamandalam Appukkutty Poduwal is one of the very limited names associated with Maddalam performance in the state. He has reinvented the possibilities of this heavy yet melodious percussion instrument and has reinstated its prominence in the cultural scenario. Born and brought up in Thiruvilwamala, Poduwal had an inborn passion for classical music, which was spotted by Venkichan Swamy, his neighbour and Maddalam maestro, who heralded the establishment of Maddalam as an eminent part in Panchavadyam as well as Kathakali performances in the early decades of the twentieth century.
Swamy, the versatile teacher, accepted Appukkutty Poduwal as his disciple along with Krishnankutty Poduwal, who later became a famous Chenda exponent. Appukkutty Poduwal still has memories of his student days with Swamy who believed that there is no shortcut to learning. The training was tough, only to produce the sweetest of results. Both Appukkutty Poduwal and Krishnankutty Poduwal became instructors in the Faculty of Instrumental Music at Kalamandalam and their friendship grew out into many venues, where they mesmerised audiences with their joint performance.
Tonal depth is the most remarkable feature of Appukkutty Poduwal's Maddalam rendering. He is in full command of each tempo and its transitions. His textures are complex and the rhythms flowing out of his Maddalam even outwits the high-sounding notes of the Chenda.
Many honours came in search of this genius, the latest being Pallavoor Appu Marar Award by the State Government. He was the first Maddalam artist in Kathakali to win the Central Sangeeth Natak Academy Award. The Kerala Kalamandalam Award, Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy Award and Kalamandalam Fellowship are some other recognitions that have come his way. The lone representative of a precious legacy, his efforts to pass it on to the next generations have also been hailed.
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