Quintessence of a tradition

FELICITATION: The Minister for Cultural Affairs, A.P. Anil Kumar, gives away the Pallavoor Appu Marar Award to Sivarama Poduwal.  


Aalipparambil Sivarama Poduwal is an icon of the Malmakkavu school of Thayambaka.

The evolution of Thayambaka as a non-liturgical genre of music can be attributed to two dominant schools in this field: Malamakkavu and Pallassana-Pallavoor. While the former provided a pyramid-like structure to this highly stylised form of music, the latter offered the performers immense space to improvise. Aalipparambil Sivarama Poduwal is a formidable icon among those who carry on the Malmakkavu school of Thyambaka. Even at the age of 81, he is agile on stage and is able to satiate his avid listeners with his time-tested idiom. Sivarama Poduwal was honoured at a function at Kalamandalam Koothambalam. A.P. Anil Kumar, Minister for Cultural affairs, presented the Pallavoor Appu Marar Award to Sivarama Poduwal.

Strong bond

An emotional Poduwal recalled, "I had a strong bond with Appu Marar. We walked together for half a century in the temples and outside. He is no more with me. And when an award in his name is conferred on me, it moves me beyond words." Born and brought up in the culturally fertile Cherpalacherry village of Palakkad district, Sivarama Poduwal came under the tutelage of his uncle, Kutta Poduwal, Thiruvegappura Rama Poduwal and Kattambala Krishnankutty Marar for lessons on the chenda. He learnt to play the chenda for temple rituals and for public performance. He gained expertise in ritual music forms like Paani and Geetagovindam along with specialisation in Thaymbaka and on the edakka as a component of Panchavadyam.

Sticking to tradition

In Thayambaka, Sivrama Poduwal did not invent a new track, cutting himself off from the grand lineage. Instead, he chiselled the ennams in the Pathikaalam, Panchari kooru and the Irikita. Poduwal sticks to the time-honoured syntax and paradigm of the Malamakkavu school, thereby defining Thayambaka as a tower of rhythm. The consistent rise in tempo, right from the Mukham of the Pathikaalam and its crescendo in the Irikita are perfect in the recitals of Sivarama Poduwal. Panchari and Chamba koorus have invariably been his forte. Whenever he plays them, a discerning listener can experience the undercurrent of melody. His left hand strokes seldom interfere with the music emanating from the urulukai. In short, Poduwal's recitals have a soothing effect on the rasikas. Moreover, Poduval can comfortably move on with the new generation of percussionists like Mattannoor Sankarankutty in the double Thayambakas. The legendary Pallavoor Appu Marar, who was always careful with words of praise, had remarked, "In Panchavadyam-edaka, Sivarama Poduwal has always been my favourite companion. His brevity in playing the instrument and precision in manoeuvring the strings is unique." In the thriputavattom of Panchavadyam, Poduwal's edaka creates alluring strains of melody. The same edaka becomes an excellent accompaniment when he sings the Ashtapadi in temples. Poduwal believes in his art and its practice. This belief is his strength and therefore neither compliments nor criticisms alter his perceptions.