This 51-minute documentary by film maker Shruti Saranayam, explores percussion maestro Mattannur Sankarankutty Marar’s life journey. In an interview, the director discusses inspiration, challenges, and the creative process behind this project.

What inspired the creation of this documentary?

As an admirer of Mattannur Sankarankutty, my aspiration to produce a documentary capturing his journey has been a longstanding dream. The realization of this dream took shape during a conversation with Sudeep Palanad, the musical force behind the project. Our shared passion for Sankarankutty’s artistry became the driving force behind the collaboration.

The project commenced with the idea of crafting the documentary in the style of a thayambaka—a tradition that Sankarankutty has mastered. The subsequent research and scriptwriting phase proved to be a task, requiring an understanding of both thayambaka and the life of the maestro himself.

The documentary delves into Sankarankutty’s early years in Mattannur, Kannur district, where his journey as a percussionist began with the discovery of the chenda. It sheds light on his tenure teaching chenda at the Kathakali department at the Vellinezhi Government High School, offering a glimpse into his formative years.

What was the concept behind the project?

Thayambaka, as an art form, encompasses two distinct styles—Malamakkavu and Palakkad—each with its unique characteristics. The Pallavur Brothers contributed their flair to thayambaka, yet Mattannur Sankarankutty stands out for his ability to amalgamate these diverse aesthetic styles, giving rise to the distinctive Mattannur bani, specialized in adanthakooru.

To capture the dynamic rhythm of thayambaka, mirroring the phases of a person’s life, the documentary was crafted. Renowned artists such as Kalamandalam Gopi, percussion expert Manoj Kuroor, and melam maestro Peruvanam Kuttan Marar contribute their insights into Sankarankutty’s art, discussing the distinctions between the Malamakkavu and Palakkadan styles.

What were the challenges faced during the production?

The shooting of the documentary posed a unique challenge, as I was in London battling Covid and unable to travel. During my physical absence, Sudeep took charge and captured the essence of Sankarankutty’s life through his lens in 2022. We made it a priority to consult and collaborate with percussion experts to unravel the nuances of this intricate art form.

For me, documenting Mattannur Sankarankutty was a dream come true. His thayambaka has always been a source of inspiration, and through this documentary, our aim was to encapsulate not just his artistry but also his profound philosophy.

Tell us about the team behind the documentary.

The cinematography for the project was handled by Sudeep Elamon and Shyamaprakash, with Rakhi Ajay producing the documentary under the banner of Sarvamangala Productions. Suhail Saay Muhammad took charge of the editing process. The documentary premiered on October 22 at the Regional Theatre in Thrissur.


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