Chatline Percussion maestro Mattannoor Sankarankutty Marar has beaten an individualistic path to the top. Nita Sathyendran listens in on his sound decisions
“After all these years, I feel that I’ve only just begun to understand the nuances of the chenda,” he says, with uncharacteristic solemnity, his fingers tapping a sure rhythm on the antique brass betel leaf holder that he takes everywhere. It’s not something you would expect to hear from a veteran percussionist whose name is now synonymous with the chenda. Mattannoor Sankarankutty Marar or simply Mattannoor, as he is popularly known, is arguably Kerala’s most well-known traditional percussionist, equally renowned for his artistry on the thayambaka (a solo recital on the chenda) as he is in the role of a Pramani (chief), leading tens of artistes, sometimes hundreds, in a Melam.