CHITTUR FOLKS

PRIDE OF CHITTUR

LATE AMBAT EACHARA MENON

Chittur owes a lot to this noble personality who was instrumental in bringing about radical reforms in Chittur Tattamangalam Municipality during its formative years.

Ambat Eachara Menon was born on June 8, 1872 as the elder son to Ambat Ammalu Amma and Kenath Krishna Menon.

He was a graduate, and a true Gandhian who took an active part in social work. He was a member of the Cochin Legislative Council right from its very inception. He served the people of Chittur as a councillor of Chittur- Thattamangalam Municipality for many years and Municipal Chairman for more than one term. The statue in front of the municipal office bears testimony to his popularity. He was not an orator, but his presence was always felt. He was married to Padinjara Ullattil (Kozhikode) Kalyani Kutty. They have a son, Sankar, and two daughters, Kunji Amma and Meenu.

Eacharan Menon passed away on August 3, 1957

 

 

 

LATE Dr.A.R.MENON (Ambat Ramanunni Menon)

RAMANUNNY (Dr.A.R.Menon) was born on March 10,1884. Grflduating in medicine from Madras University, he went to England for further studies. He passed MB,ChB (Edinborough) and spent 14 years in UK where he was held up during the first world war. He worked for a decade in Ireland, qualified as a surgeon and served in Glasgow hospitals. He had several medical degrees to his credit and was one of the leading surgeons of his time. He returned to India in 1921 and set up practice in Trichur. He had two able assistants, Dr.P.N .Vaidyanatha Iyer and Dr.M.N.Menon, his Uncle's son. He had a loyal and devoted driver-cum-manager named Raghava Panicker. In course of time, the two assistants set up independent practice at Trichur and Ottapalam respectively.

Dr. A.R. Menon took keen interest in social service. The active part played by him in quelling the Mappila rebellion made him a hero, and he earned the goodwill and respect of Trichur citizens, irrespective of caste or creed. Shortly after this, he entered politics and was elected member of Cochin Legislative Council for several years. He was elected Chairman of the Trichur Municipal Council for three consecutive terms. He resigned the Chairmanship in protest against the granting of sanctions for the supply and distribution of electricity to the Chandini Company, by the then Dewan of Cochin State, Sir R.K.Shanmugham Chetty. When diarchy was introduced in Cochin State, on the lines of the system being tried in British India under the Montague Chelmsford reforms, the elections were fought on party lines. Cochin Congress, of which Dr.A.R.Menon was a prominent member, came to power and its leader Ambat Sivarama Menon, who was his cousin, became the Minister for Rural Development. Following the untimely death of Siva ram a Menon, Dr.A.R.Menon was elected leader of the Party, and became

Minister for Rural Development on September 5, 1938. He resigned in 1942, shifted residence to Palghat and started a nursing home there. He was a member of Palghat Municipal Council and elected Chairman of the Palghat Municipality for a term. A statue has been erected in front of the municipality as a mark of respect to him.

When Kerala State was formed. he represented Trichur as a member in the State Legislative Assembly, and became the Health Minister This was the first ministry formed by the Communist Party, under the leadership ofE.M.S Nambudiripad.

Dr. Menon was also a member of Madras Senate, elected by the members of the Municipalities of Malabar. He was a member of the All India Congress Committee from the erstwhile Cochin State.

Dr. Menon was engaged to Madhavi Kutty. daughter of Dr.A.G. Menon, his uncle, before leaving for Britain for higher studies in 1907. She passed away before he returned to India, 14 years later. On his return, he married Kamalam, daughter of Rukmini Thangachi and Sree Narayan Thampi, only son of Sree Visakham Thirunal, Maharaja of Travencore State. They have

two daughters, Janaki and Radha, and two sons, Ram Mohan (Appu) and Vijayan.

Dr.A.R.Menon passed away on October 9, 1960. As a mark of respect and in memory ofthe services he rendered to Trichur, the road leading to Ambat house in Naickanal, off Vivekodayam

School road, has been named after him. This house is a unit of Ambat Tharavad (now sold) where Cochin Congress Party m:::etings used to be held. Similarly, the road in Sultanpet, where he had his residence and nursing home, has been named Dr. A.R.Menon Road.

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LATE RAO BAHDUR AMBAT KESAVA MENON

The doyen of soap industry in India

AMBAT KESAVA MENON, fifth child and second son of Kurumba Amma and Thachat Chathhappa Menon, was born on December 16,1889. After graduating from the Presidency College, Madras, he went to UK in 1909 on government scholarship for higher studies in oil and soap manufacturing. While in U.K., he and K.P.Kesava Menon (who became Mathruboomi editor) were staying together. He worked with Lever Brothers and with Dralle in Germany. After visiting many European countries, he returned to India in 1913 and worked with Fisheries Department of Madras Government. Subsequently he was appointed as oil chemist by the Madras Government, and headed a research team on fish oil at Tanur. A product of this research was shark liver oil, now used as a tonic. He moved to Calicut and established the Kerala Soap Institute as a unit of the Industries Department of the Madras Government. The institute produced quality toilet and washing soaps that became popular all over the country. A toilet soap which was a favourite with the then Viceroy's wife, Lady Willingdon, was named after her. He served as member of Central Coconut Committee, and Oil and Oilseeds Committee of India where his contribution was significant. He was President of South India Soap Manufacturers Association, and has published many papers of great scientific importance. Most well known brands of soaps manufactured in the country were produced in the factories run by the students of Kerala Soap Institute. He is considered as father of soap manufacturing in the country. The title of Rao Bahadur was conferred on him in recognition of his services to the country. He retired from service in 1948. He started Victory Chemicals and Pharmaceutical Works at Chalakudi, but this did not do well.

He was married to Lakshmi Kutty,  daughter of Kottiazeth Puthiya Veettil Kavutty Amma and Ambat Velukutty Menon. She was in the first batch of Queen Mary's College, Madras after its inception. They have four daughters and two sons, Sarada Gopinathan, Satyabala, Sarojini, Chandra Kumar and Sumangala. Lakshmi Klitly passed away on June 3 1961.

Kesava Menon died on June'14, 1974, after undergoing an operation In Kolar Gold Fields Hospital.

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LATE AMBAT SIVARAMA MENON

First elected Minister of an Indian state

Ambat Sivarama Menon  was the second of four children and only son of Ambat Ikkali Amma and Champathil Nanu Mannadiar. He was born in 1878.

Graduating from Madras Law College, he practised at the Madras High Court and won acclaim as a brilliant advocate. His forceful arguments, ready replies to judges'querries, vast knowledge and prodigeous memory, were all legendary.No wonder, he was referred to as a walking encyclopedia. An authority on the Marumakkathayam law of succession, he served as examiner for the law degree examinations of Madras University.

Though a man of serious pursuits, he was always relaxed and often witty. Known for his patience and tolerance, he was generous to a fault, ever ready to help those who sought his assistance. The number is legion offriends, relatives and juniors at the bar who benefited from their association with him. One of the pioneers of the cooperative movement in India, Sivarama Menon was also one of the founders and many times president of the Triplicane Urban Cooperative Society, the first consumer cooperative to be started in the country. He was a director of Cochin Land Mortgage Bank. In the society of Freemasons, one of the world's oldest fraternal organisations, he was elected

Worshipful Master of Lord Justicia. Sivarama Menon was a founder-member of the Justice Party, and the editor of the party's official newspaper, The Liberator. In 1936, when he was first elected to the Cochin Legislative Council from Mulakunnathukavu constituency, he retired from legal practice and settled down in Thrissur. Two years later, in the elections held under a new Constitution ushering in dyarchy, he was returned to the Assembly from Cheruthuruthy. As leader of the Cochin Congress, he was appointed Minister for Rural Development on June 17, 1,938.He was the first elected minister of an Indian state. He passed away due to cardiac arrest on August 30, 1938 during his first official visit to his home town, Chittur, after becoming minister.

Sivarama Menon was married to Kalyanikutty Amma the only daughter of Pallissery Thekke Komarath Parukutty Amma and Kavithilakan Kundur Narayana Menon. They had six sons and three daughters: Sri Narayanan, Satyabala, Ananda Padmanabhan, Bhagyanathan, Swarna Kumari, Chandrasekharan, Sarojini, Sivaraman and Sivadas. Smt. Kayanikutty Amma passed away in March 1960.

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LATE DIWAN BAHADUR C.P.KARUNAKARA MENON

It was only due to his sustained efforts that Chittur College became a reality in 1950s?..

Cherubala Pathayapura Karunakara Menon was born in 1891 in Chittur, then a part of erstwhile Cochin State. His was a family, which followed the tradition of farming so common in those days, was by no means wealthy and true to tradition, it was the three sibling boys who were given formal school and college education, The three sisters were limited to the local school.

Karunakara Menon graduated from Presidency College, Maras and joined the Board of Revenue of Madras Government as a Clerk. Sir John Hall was the one who noticed this young' man's potential and charted out a course for his progress in service. Menon steadily rose in career to become become a Deputy Collector, Assistant Secretary in the State Public Service Commission and soon Secretary during the overhaul of this statutory institution. He served in this position for many years. With the first elected government taking over power under Sir C Rajagopalachari (Rajaji), the Public Service Commission began to experience the early pressures of political interest in appointments and selection. Politicians of those days were of a different breed and recognised the importance of an orderly government and effective institutions as the following paragraph indicates.

During his stint at the Public Service Commission, there was an unseemly row between a Central minister and the Secretary in his ministry. The minister went public with nasty comments and threats to which the Secretary responded in like terms. This provoked a ninety year old retired civil servant of Madras Government to write a letter to a newspaper, bemoaning the disappearance of propriety and decorum in government. He reported an incident in which the new Premier - as Rajaji was then called - ordered the Public Service Commission (PSC) to recruit civil servants for a position for which the specifications were very rigid. The Secretary of PSC soon reported its inability to find candidates with the specifications given. Repeated instructions from the Premier left the Secretary unmoved. The Premier was incensed and ordered the Chairman of PSC to act against the Secretary for his failure. The Chairman, a British citizen, disagreed with the Premier and suggested that the specifications be modified. This angered the Premier even more and he approached the Governor seeking action against the Chairman and Secretary for defying legal authority. The Governor apparently suggested to the Premier that he should recognise the role of statutory institutions and discuss the problem with PSC. It was reported to the Premier's credit that he invited the Chairman and Secretary for a meeting at which the matter was resolved. CP Karunakara menon Menon was the Secretary in PSC at that time.

Karunakara Menon was thereafter transferred as Collector of South Kanara and during this tenure he had another disagreement with the Government when he was abruptly replaced by a British civil servant. He threatened to resign and went on leave only to be summoned by Rajaji. Obviously it was a good meeting as he was elevated and transferred as Secretary, Development Department in the State Secretariat. It was at about this time that he was nominated to Indian Civil Service from the State cadre, an exercise that was rare in these days.

When war broke out, Menon was made the first Regional Food Commissioner of Government of India to administer the limited food grain stocks in the south. He played a key role in introducing rationing systems. He was soon called to Delhi to take over as Director General of Food when Rajendra Prasad was Food Minister.

In the course of his distinguished career he was conferred the titles of Rao Sahib, Rao Bahadur and Diwan Bahadur by the British Government. It is not widely known that his name had been recommended for a knighthood which was aborted after Britain and India agreed that in the light of the impending offer of independence, British awards would no longer be given to Indian Civil servants.

An interlude in Menon's career was his five-month stint on deputation to Cochin State as Diwan or Prime Minister at the insistence of the then Maharaja, Kerala Varma, and later on known as 'Aikya Keralam' Thampuran for his promotion of that concept. 15th August 1947 saw India becoming a free country and Menon resigned the Diwanship making way for an elected Chief Minister.

Karunakara Menon continued to serve the Central Government as Adviser in Delhi, then Hyderabad after it was taken over and then as Chairman of various committees. He finally returned to Kerala and took up business interests. He revived the defunct Shoranur Metal Industries, set up the Chittur Sugar Cooperative Mill and was Chairman of the private Cochin Commercial Bank. He was primarily instrumental in setting up Chittur College fulfilling a long felt need of the population of Chittur.

Karunakara Menon married T.C.Janaki Amma, from the well known Kuruppam family in Tbrissur. She was one of the earliest lady postgraduates in Sanskrit from Kerala and passed with honours from Presidency College, Madras. Their eldest son, Krishnan, was selected for IA & AS and retired as Accountant General, Andhra Pradesh. He died in 2002. Their daughter, Parvathi, married a civil servant of the Central Government who served abroad and later in Company Law Commission and Board, then was Secretary, later Director of Cochin Refineries. The youngest son, Narayanan went into the corporate world and has now retired after serving as Director, Managing Director and Chairman of various multi-national companies in India and abroad.

Karunakara Menon passed away in 1976 and Janaki Amma in 1991.

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LATE AMBAT SEKHARA MENON

Ambat Sekahara Menon, eldest son of Karthiayani Kettilamma, was born on April 18, 1925. After schooling, he joined the Civil Supplies Department of Madras Govrnment, at Palghat, where he worked for five years from 1944 when he resigned and settled down at Chitur looking after the family property. He started Menon Stores, dealing in stationery and other consumer items. He was member of Chittur Tattamangalam Municipality for nearly fifteen years and Chairman for seven years. He served as director of the Palakkad District Co-operative Bank for eight years, as Director and later President of Chittur Service Cooperative Bank for more than 10 years and President of Palghat Milk Cooperative Association and Chittur- Tattamangalam Milk Supply Cooperative Society which owns the Palazhi Kalyana Mandapam near Chittur Kavu. He was founder-member and Secretary of Farm Wages Committee at the district level and member of the Farm Workers? Welfare Fund at the State level. He is also founder of Palghat District Karshaga Sangham, an independent organisation of which he has been the president for over twenty years. He remained a bachelor till he passed away in October 2002.

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LATE DR A.N.K. MENON      A Chitturean who was the Director of Medical Services in Madras Presidency?

A.Narayanan Kutty Menon (fondly called Kunhumani), was born in 1910 as the eldest son of Ambat Nanikuty Amma and Kambrath Kuttirama Menon.

He was an MBBS, with a DMR, DMRD (London), MS (Minnesota) and FCCP(USA). He was a radiologist at the Stanley Medical College Hospital, Madras for a long time under Madras Government service. He retired as Director of Medical Services.

An eminent radiologist, he was diagnostic specialist at Barnard Institute of Radiology of Madras General Hospital. He had travelled widely, and had the honour of presiding over the International Radiologist Congress in Tokyo. Many of his scientific papers are highIy rated by radiologists.

He was married in 1942 to Devi, daughter of Manjapra Devaky Amma and Parekkat Sankunny Menon. They had no children. Devi passed away in 1951. Kunhumani married her sister, Parvathi (Ammini) in 1952. They have a daughter, Lakshmi, and two sons, Anand Kumar and Arun Kumar.

Dr ANK Menon passed away on February 29, 1988.

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LATE P. LEELA

The immortal nightingale from Chittur

P.Leela was born at Chittur on 19th May 1933 as the youngest of the three children to Shri EKK Menon and Smt. Porayath Meenakshikutty Amma. Her father EKK Menon was a teacher in Cochin with unfathomable interest in Carnatic Music. Noticing the remarkably melodious and malleable musical voice in his youngest daughter he made it his lifetime mission to mould her as a musician and spared no expense or effort in his cherished goals. Menon's robust faith in Leela's voice made him resign his job to help her continue learning music under Vadakkancheri Rama Bhagavatar, who had left Ernakulam to settle in Chennai. The father and his 10-year-old daughter stayed with Bhagavatar. There was no excuse; the father was very particular that Leela should do sadhaka early in the morning. He saw to it that her sole interest was music and so he let her know no worry.

Leela had a thorough training in classical music before starting her film career. She received an opportunity to lend her voice for a Tamil movie in 1948. Her conservative family was reluctant to consider the offer but was persuaded to accept. And Leela took her bow as playback singer in ?Kanganam? a Tamil movie in 1948. It was an invocational song composed by H.R.Padmanabha Sastry. Following that, she sang for 2 Tamil films in Subbaraman's music direction. The next year she sang 'Paaduka Poonkuyile' for 'Nirmala', which introduced the playback system in Malayalam. The year 1949 proved to be a turning point in Leela?s playback singing career in Telugu Cinema when she sang in three movies.

Leela's voice immortalised songs like 'Ujayiniyile nayika' (Kadalppalam), 'Periyare' (with AM Raja in 'Bharya'), 'Panchamiyo' (Ezhurathrikal), 'Neeye Gathi' (Annayin Aanai), and 'Kannum Kannum Kalandhu' (with Jikki in 'Vanjikottai Valiban'). Leela's last playback song was a keerthan for Fazil's 'Ente Surya Puthrikku' ('Karppoora Mullai' in Tamil), which was released more than a decade ago.

In a career spanning over five decades, P Leela, had sung over 1,000 songs in different languages under top music directors.  She had made hundreds of Malayalam scores, known for their emotional touch and classical discipline. She also left a lasting impression as a devotional singer with her recital of Narayaneeyam and Lord Guruvayurappan songs marking brisk sales of the records. Vakacharthu as recited by Leela, is played every morning in Guruvayur Temple, coinciding with the Nirmalya Darshan in the wee hours.

Leela was the recipient of several honours, including the first best playback singer award of the Kerala government in 1969 and State Government of Tamil Nadu in 1992. A few of the several awards and honours that came her way were - Kerala sangeetha Nataka Academy Award, Film Fans? Award, Gold Medal from Madras Music Academy, Kalaimamani award from Tamilnadu, Janmashtami Award, Sivapadmam Sward, Vayalar Award, Kamukara Award and conferring Disnguished Membership of MACTA. She also received the distinguished titles such as Gaanamani, Gaanakokilam, Sangeeta Saraswati, Kalratnam, Bhaktigaanathilakam, Gaanavarshini, Gaanasudha and Sangeeta Narayani.

The veteran playback singer passed away on 1st Nov 2005 in a private hospital in Chennai. She was being treated for pneumonia and asthma.

Leela was humble to the core. In spite of her success, she remained a modest, small town girl from Chittur. She was married to a lawyer but regretfully it did not turn out to be a happy one. Her world comprised of her family deities, her beloved father and of course her music. Even in her later years she was in demand and performed in Kerala, in the Middle East countries and elsewhere. One of her unforgettable memories was that of a lean, handsome young man who came to meet her, requesting her to recommend him to composers. Little did she realise then that the young man would soon blossom into a maestro and cult figure! The man was K. J. Yesudas!

The immortal singer was posthumously honored with PADMA SREE by the Govt of India in 2008.

Leela may have gone from our midst but her music shall remain immortal...

To view a tribute to the immortal singer, please click on:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38sjaDXB8rc

http://www.slideshare.net/colonel/a-tribute-to-p-leela-127181/

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Smt. SHANTA DHANANJAYAN

A life devoted to Dance............

Shanta Dhananjayan was born on 12th August 1943 into a well to do family in Malaysia, was a child prodigy. Though Shanta was born in Malaysia, she traces her ancestry to Kerala from where her family had migrated to Malaysia three generations ago. Her father was an accountant for the BBC in Johore Bahru. By the time she was 3, her parents were convinced that Shanta would be a dancer. They found in her, an inborn response to dance and joy of movement and decided to send her to India for her education. After a brief period in Kerala, her parents wanted to send her to Shantiniketan, which was then a great center for the arts. With the encouragement of her uncle Achuta Menon, they sent her to Kalakshetra as an 8 year old in June 1952, a year before Dhananjayan went there..

When Guru Chandu Panicker was taking the two boys Balagopal and Dhananjayan to meet Rukmini Devi, Dhananjayan saw the young Shanta for the first time at the Theosophical Society gardens. She was the first girl Dhananjayan was introduced to when he, a village boy, who knew nothing except Malayalam, arrived at Kalakshetra. Shanta was a serious girl totally devoted to her dance and she secretly made up her mind even at the age of 12 to partner Dhananjayan in life. Dhananjayan on his part made his feelings clear to her when he was 18, but Shanta kept him in suspense and he thought maybe she did not wish to marry someone lower in economic status. Shanta left Kalakshetra after her post graduation and took up a job in Malaysia. When her parents started to look for an alliance for her, she revealed her interest in Dhananjayan and returned to India to marry him.

The Dancing Duo  do not experience any conflicts in dance because of the mutual understanding, which has grown over the years. So, they complement each other beautifully in their personal life as well as in their dance career. Though in their 60s, the dancing duo still continue to enthral audiences all over the world.   Despite dancing together for 50 years, they manage to keep routine and boredom at bay by working on varied themes, involving themselves in different projects, collaborations and workshops apart from being totally involved in guiding their students? recitals. Dividing their time between Bharata Kalanjali in Chennai and Bhaaskara in Kerala, keeps them busy year round. The varied activities, which take up so much time and energy, keep their spirits vitalized and their outlook fresh. 

Shanta Dhananjayan holds a Post Graduate Diploma with distinction in Bharatanaatyam and has also learnt Kathakali and Carnatic music from Kalakshetra and was a leading female dancer from 1955 till 1968. Dhananjayans have earned national and international acclaim not only because of their performances but also the yeoman service they are doing for popularising different dance forms. They have been awarded many titles and they have established a dance school at Payyanur, the native place of Shri. Dhananjayan. Needless to say that Shantha does proud to Chittur where her roots are.

The Dhananjayans have two sons. The elder lives in the USA while the younger son Satyajit who?s a good dancer is carving out a niche for himself as a photographer.


LATE MAJOR CHITTUR SUBRAMANIAN KRISHNAN, VRC, VM

The gallant Gunner from Chittur who gave his Today for our Tomorrow???..

Major CS Krishnan, third son of Late CR Subramania Iyer from Thekke Gramam (fondly known as CRS to his contemporaries), was selected for Pre-commission training at Indian Military Academy in Dehradun immediately after his graduation from Victoria College, Palakkad. He was commissioned into the Regiment of Artillery in 1959. During the 1965 Indo-Pak war, Captain Krishnan was a helicopter pilot involved in Air Observation Post (AOP) duties.

On 1st September 1965, when Pakistani forces launched a massive attack in the Chhamb sector, Captain Krishnan flew over the area in order to locate enemy artillery guns. Disregarding heavy enemy fire, he engaged the enemy artillery guns and ultimately silenced them. As officer commanding of the Air Operation Flight in Jammu and Kashmir, Captain Krishnan employed his flight in directing artillery fire against the infiltrators and inflicted heavy casualties on them. He flew nearly 60 hours, of which 45 hours were on operational sorties. Throughout his assignment, Captain Krishnan displayed courage and leadership of a high order. For this he was awarded the Vir Chakra by the then President of India (See picture on right).

Major Krishnan, VrC, a qualified Flying Instructor, was Officer Commanding of an Air Observation Post Flight from September 1973 to October 1974 when the flight was being re-equipped with a new type of aircraft. Despite the pressures of instructional flying involved in converting a number of pilots, he set an outstanding example of professionalism by upgrading his helicopter category/instructor rating from C/White to A/Master Green.

On 20th October 1974, Major Krishnan was detailed to undertake a communication-cum-reconnaissance sortie. His aircraft suffered an engine failure, immediately after take off at a height of 300 feet above ground level. He handled the aircraft  skillfully but was killed in the subsequent forced landing. Major Krishnan, throughout displayed courage, professional skill and devotion to duty of a high order. On Air Force Day, 8 October 1976, Major Krishnan was awarded the Vayu Sena medal posthumously. (See picture on the right where Smt. Ganga Krishnan, his bereaved widow receiving the Vayu Sena Medal on behalf of Late Maj Krishnan).

Though he departed from this world at the peak of his career, he remains still arole model for all the Air OP Pilots of the Indian artillery. To honour Major Krishnan's bravery and dedication to duty, the Indian Railway authorities put up a plaque at the entrance to the Upper Class waiting room Palghat Junction. Please see the picture on the left, taken on the occasion of erecting the plaque; Krishnan?s parents are seen in the picture.

It would be of interest to the Chiturfolks that Late Maj CS Krishnan?s sister-in-law, Mrs. Saroja Badreenarayan and his niece Mrs. Anna Shiv Gopal are members of the chitturfolks e-group right from its inception.

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Shri. MADHU AMBAT

Cinematography is his passion

MADHUSUDANAN (Madhu Ambat) was born on April 2, 1949. He is a graduate and holds a diploma from the Film Institute of India, Poona, from where he passed out in 1970, securing a gold medal.

Madhu's father, K Bhagyanath, resigned as a Professor of English to be a full-time magician. Bhagyanath was an amateur photographer. Bhagyanath and his wife Sulochana believed that one should take the profession one liked best. And all these helped Madhu take cinematography as his profession.

Madhu, who started his career with a documentary for famous director Ramu Kariat, has been cinematographer for over 120 films.

Take Bharathan's 'Vaisali' or 'Amaram' or Lenin Rajendran's 'Swathi Thiranal' or 'Kulam' or 'Daivathinte Vikruthikal': All these films give us the impression that more is conveyed through visuals than through dialogues. And that is the success of a cinematographer like Madhu Ambat.

There is a picturesque depth in each of Madhu's shots which he attributes to the influence of paintings, especially those of Van Gogh. This influence has turned him into an explorer of inner landscapes and a follower of expressionism.

Noted for presenting various moods, Madhu worked with most of the major directors, including M Night Shyamalan. His handling of the camera for Shyamalan's 'Praying with Anger' and 'Wide Awake' has won him international acclaim. It was Hollywood politics which kept Madhu from 'Sixth Sense', against the director's wish. Madhu won the national award for best colour photography in 1984 for G V Iyer's Sanskrit film, 'Adi Sankaracharya'. Films like 'Aswathama', 'Sooriante Maranam', 'Yaro Oral', 'Purushartham', 'Swathi Thirunal' and 'Amaram' brought to him the Kerala state best photography awards while he received the Andhra Pradesh state award for best cinematography for 'Hrudayanjali'. He bagged the Film Critics award for 'Daivathinte Vikruthikal'. Madhu won wide national acclaim for his emphatic presentation of visuals in such films like 'Oppol', 'Nammavar', 'Bhagavat Geetha', 'Thabarana Kathe', 'Uppu', 'Amodini' and others.

Madhu, who is settled in Chennai with his wife Latha and two sons Darshan and Rythwin, has established the Fantasia Centre for Research and Development of Cinema. This non-profit organisation strives to spread film culture.

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Smt. VIDHUBALA

Added glamour to Chittur

VIDHUBALA, born on May 24, 1954, is a graduate in psychology. An accomplished classical dancer and gifted actress; Vidhubala, who made a splash with Hariharan's `College Girl' in 1974 (10 years after making her debut as an eight-year-old in `School Master') acted in 112 films in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu, from 1962 to 1978.  She may have been reluctant to take up acting as a profession, but she proved that she was more than a competent actor in films such as `Aswathama,' `Rappadikalude Gatha,' `Agni,' `Veedu Oru Swargam,' `Njaval Pazhangal' and `Ormakal Marikkumo.' Vidhubala ended her acting career with `Abhinayam.' She had something about her that the heroines then lacked: the girl-next-door look.

As leading lady in a Tamil film, Pennukku Thanmanassu, she won an award (1973). She married (February 2, 1983) Muralikumar, son of Parekkat Saraswathi Amma and Kerala Varma Ammmaman Thampuran of Cochin Royal family. He owns of two theatres in Calicut. They have a son, Arjun, born on December 30, 1984.

She is working with her elder brother and leading cinematographer Madhu Ambat on a few projects, including a documentary on Lalgudi Jayaraman.

She is also writing a book on her father, Professor Bhagyanath, the famous magician. "He played a crucial role in my career. He, and my mother, Sulochana, both of whom were freedom fighters, wanted me to be a dancer. I was a reluctant actress; I began acting only to oblige some relatives or friends of our relatives," says the great-granddaughter of poet Kundoor Narayana Menon.

Although Vidhubala chose to retire as an actress when she was at the peak of her career, she has not severed her links with tinsel town. ?Yes, there have been many offers to act, but I am not interested. Acting is a closed chapter for me, but cinema is not?.

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Shri. KY SANKUNNY

The first Chitturean to don the colours of Kerala State and Kerala University in Football

Shri KY Sankunny, popularly known as Kulappuraveetil Kuttettan in his friends' circles, is the son of Ambat Kandappa Menon (Manikka Menon) and Kulappura Yezhuvath Rugmani Amma. KYS had made a mark as an outstanding sportsman during his school and college days and represented the Kerala University and State in football, perhaps the only Chitturean to achieve such a dual distinction. His friends vividly recall the days when they pedalled on bicycles to places like Koduvayur to watch their hero ?Kuttettan? playing matches. He represented Govt. College, Chittur in Cricket and Football and was an all rounder in the fullest sense of the term. He also played for the erstwhile Dynamos and Udaya Clubs, the two leading Football Clubs of Palakkad in the All India foot-Ball tournaments conducted at Palakkad.

He completed his B.Com from Govt. College, Chittur and by virtue of his achievements in sports got recruited as a Preventive Officer in Bombay customs. He changed his field from Customs to Flight Kitchen accounting and served in the prestigious Airlines like TWA, ALITALIA and retired as in charge of accounts of Ambassador Flight Kitchen.

Married to Sathi (Omana) Menon, a Senior accounts Officer in BARC, Bombay, the couple were blessed with twin daughters Bindu and Indu - Bindu a senior executive in a Project finance company in Dubai and Indu a Beautician of standing in Mumbai. Both are married and well settled.

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AMMINI RAMACHANDRAN

Read what she tells you about her:

"Let me tell you a little bit about myself - the sort of things friends share over a cup of coffee. I took a rather meandering route to the world of food writing. After spending over two decades in a career in finance, today I spend my time researching, cooking and writing about the cuisine and culture of my home state of Kerala in India. 

For the first twenty-five years of my life, I knew only the vegetarian cuisine of my home. A move to the U.S. with my then graduate student husband opened the door for me to the wonderful world of cooking. Until I came to this country, I had never cooked a complete meal. I taught myself to cook by referring to the recipes that my mother sent me every week in her letters. They never mentioned any measurements ? ?a pinch,? ?a handful,? and ?some? were the most prominent adjectives she used. I had to rely on my memory of tastes to get the flavors right.

My life in India was a privileged one by Indian standards. I grew up in a large, well-to-do Nayar joint-family. Our kitchen was a spacious and special place with its wood burning stoves and wooden racks filled with copper, bronze and soapstone pots and ceramic jars. Like the kitchen of any orthodox Hindu home, it was always spotlessly clean and no one was allowed to enter it without taking a bath first or with shoes on. As children we were not allowed to go further than the doorway to this kitchen.

My childhood recollections are of waking up to the distinct aroma of freshly made decoction coffee that emanated from this kitchen in the morning. Of sitting on the windowsill in the mornings and watching the cook churn a large pot of yogurt to make fresh butter and buttermilk. Of lazy summer afternoons tiptoeing into the kitchen, when no one was there, to pick a handful of sea salt from the uppumarava (wooden salt box) to eat with fresh raw mangoes. Of watching my mother continuously stir paalpaayasam (rice pudding) on festival days, while the cooks hurried around her preparing traditional dishes with fresh vegetables from our farm. And of the many good times that made this kitchen the heart of the home. From this kitchen came some of the amazingly diverse vegetarian dishes that were prepared with seemingly ordinary ingredients. To this day the tastes and aromas that accompanied these simple creations remain vivid in my memory.

My interest in the cooking of central Kerala has been truly kindled during the three decades I have lived away from there. Learning to prepare dishes from other parts of India from my friends made me realize how different and unique our cuisine is. Exploring the world of international cuisine made me aware of the vague similarities of our cuisine to Mexican cuisine and to a certain extent even to Italian cuisine.

Recipes for some of the traditional vegetarian dishes of our region still remain only in the memory of an older generation. During my many visits home I have studied this traditional cuisine from native cooks who have lived and cooked in this region their entire lives. I have spent many fascinating hours listening and writing down their verbal culinary histories that go back hundreds of years. This Southwest will always be home to me and its foods are the comfort foods I long for. Through this web site I want to share with you the simple foods and cultural traditions of my community from central Kerala, a community to which I belong.
Encouraged by my early successes in cooking, I submitted my mother?s recipe (with proper measurements of course) for coconut rice to a recipe contest held by Woman?s Day magazine. My joy knew no bounds when I received a letter from the magazine that I had won the first prize in the recipe competition. A couple of weeks later, the food editor of The Providence Journal interviewed me in the kitchen as I made coconut pancakes. Next Wednesday?s food section featured her article with some of my recipes. Thus began my journey into the world of food writing.

My dream to pursue an American education and career took me in a different direction for the next several years. But my interest in all things culinary has always kept me close to food. I was one of the founding members of the University Gourmet Club in Dallas, Texas, in which I remained active during the twelve years I lived there. When was living in New York I attendrd culinary seminars and took continuing education courses in Food Studies at New York University. In the summer 2005, I moved back to Plano, a suburb of Dallas.

I am a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Culinary Historians of New York, and Association for the Study of Food and Society. My recipes and articles have appeared in The Providence journal, Flavor & Fortune, www.leitesculinaria.com, www.sallys-place.com, www.ThingsAsian.comwww.chintha.com  and Sacred Waters- Stories of Healing, Cleansing and Renewal.

I hold a diploma in article writing from the School of Careers, Berkshire, England; a BSc. in chemistry and physics from Kerala University, India; and an MBA from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas".

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NEELACHADATH SANKARA MENON

Chittureans' MAN FRIDAY....... Omnipresent at Chittur ... Epitome of simplicity and selfless service....

Neelachadath Sankara Menon, fondly known as Ponnetta to the Chittur population, was born on 06 Marc 1932 as one of the three children to Nallepilly Thachangat Velukuttty Nair and Karthiayani Amma. Belonging to a poor family, Sankara Menon did not get enough opportunities to complete even his formal school education.  Leaving the school after completing his Class 2, Menon was compelled to look for a vocation and thus took to tailoring which he learnt at Chittur and Coimbatore, and continued in this profession for almost 30 years. Elder generation of Chittur still remember the Men's Tailoring Shop near the Post Office which was the hub of all activities for the Chittureans, old and young alike.

He took to social work and was a helping hand to all the folks in Chittur as a young social worker, a practice which he continues even today. He recalls that he made a stint with active politics at the behest of old Congress stalwarts like Late Govinda Iyer and KP Sivaramakrishnan in 1961-62. Shri K Sankaranarayanan, an erstwhile Congress leader and presently the Governor of Nagaland is a close associate of Sankara Menon.

Sankara Menon had the unique distinction of being the member of the Chittur-Tattamangalam Municipal Council for 26 years, the longest duration which no other Councillor in Chittur ever had. Right from 1978 when he won the local body election to the Municipal Council from Kizhakkethara Ward, he continued to represent that ward for 21 years and thereafter represented Thekkegramam Ward for five years. He was also the Vice Chairman of the Municipal Council for 10 years in succession and Chairman for two years. Fame and positions did not deter Sankara Menon from continuing his humble social work in Chittur as ever before. No event in Chittur - be it an occasion of Birth, Wedding, Death, Festival or any other social event - takes place without Sankara Menon being the MAN FRIDAY; he takes on the responsibilities (voluntarily) and leaves the others tension-free in conducting all such events with precision. People of Chittur, irrespective of religion, caste, status and party politics respect and endear Sankara Menon from the core of their hearts. Believe it or not; he is a 'one man army' who advances the funeral expense from his pocket initially (which is almost always empty!) & the affected family comes to know of it only after they get over the trauma of bereavement - this is the unique style of our 'one & only Ponnetta'. His personal popularity was clearly evident when the then youth wing of Kizhakkethara (comprising of contradicting Socio-Eco-Politico Cross section) jubilantly took him around in a procession when he was elected Chairman of Chittur Tattamangalam Municipal Council.

Contacting Sankara Menon is the easiest task any person in Chittur can think of; go to Vettakkorumakan Kavu near the Post office and you would invariably find 'Ponnetta' there almost every time. He is an epitome of humility, simplicity, selfless service and loyalty to the Chittureans - all bundled in one.


Dr.A.Sreekumar Menon : Pride of Nalleppilly

Dr.A.Sreekumar Menon  was born  in a traditional Nair family called ‘Athikkat’ in Nalleppilly villiage, Chittur Taluk , Palakkad District. He  graduated from Chittur College in Philosophy and Psychology  in 1961 with first rank in Kerala University . He took M.A degree in Psychology from Kerala University  with first class. He took  Doctorate (Ph.D) from Mysore University and did  Post-Doctorate  from Australia in Psychology , specializing in H.R . He had excellent academic back ground. He received 5 Scholarships and Fellowships from University of Kerala , Ministry of Education, Govt Of India , U.G.C, Ford Foundation , U.S.A  and International Labour Studies , Geneva  He was also active socially and culturally.
He served in New Delhi and oversea as Researcher , Management Trainer , Advisor and so on and contributed substantially in the spread of Management education through his studies, publications and imparting  training .He authored  5 original Research based books on Management of which two received All India –D.M.A Awards . He also received N.I.P.M Award and Will’s Award of Excellence .In addition to books he wrote many articles which  find their practical use in Business practice . He has also written 50 Articles on Indian culture. He has analyzed all the Indian festivals and  wrote commentaries bringing out the  messages of those festivals. He decries mere ritualistic practices in Hindu Religion and has  shown  how principles of Hinduism can be practiced in our everyday life for  leading a life of enduring happiness , peace and  realization of human potential  and harmony in social life through his writings and speeches . His Articles can be accessed in the web space by searching them using his name He gives lectures based on his Articles to make people aware of his thoughts and ideas. Now at the age of 70, he continues to be very active and agile and spreading messages on human values to offset the ill effects of rank materialistic modern life .He currently lives in Bangalore. He has travelled  widely abroad  and delivered discourses in the countries of his visit .Currently , he is in Houston , U.S.A  His writings  in the web space for all the time to come  should  inspire   present and future generation  especially of youths for  achieving more perfection in their lives..

Dr. A.Sreekumar Menon's family includes his wife Dr. Santha  Medical Practioner, their Son Dr Arun Sreekumar, Internationally Recognised Scientist working with Texas Medical Centre, U.S.A, his wife and son .
Dr.Menon's  Articles appear  in the Bog of this web site . His Email ID is: santhasree2000 @yahoo.com

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KULAPPURA YEZHUVATH PADMANABHAN (1928 – 1994) - A quiet revolutionary from Chittur

Kulappura Yezuvath Padmanabhan, KY as he was affectionately called by his colleagues and friends, and Devettan by Chitturians, was born in Chittur in 1928.  He did his schooling in Chittur and first years of college at Thrissur.  He graduated from the Pachaiappa’s College, Madras with a B.A (Hons) degree. 

KY became an eminent authority on diamonds and everything connected with the diamond industry.  He acquired the specialized knowledge on diamonds through reading books, journals, and all other relevant and informative literature and also close interaction with the people in the diamond industry.  He used to spend several hours daily after his normal working hours to learn various aspects of diamond industry.  It was a passion for him to acquire knowledge on diamonds.  In order to share his knowledge, in 1986 he wrote the book “All about Diamonds” in simple, lucid words.  This book became so popular that it is even today being used as a basic reference book by everyone involved with diamond cutting, evaluation, business, etc.   His book was subsequently translated into Gujarati language because the diamond business in Gujarat is the highest in the country.

KY was closely associated with various diamond trading firms such as S.G.Jhaveri, London Star, etc.  He was an honorary consultant to Diamond Exporters Association Limited (DEAL) and continued to promote the interests of diamond community.  On his initiative the S.G. Jhaveri Center for Diamond Technology at Mumbai which is the premier institution for training of artisans in modern methods of processing of diamonds was started.  In 1993 at the initiative of KY  the Bharat Diamond Bourse campus in Mumbai was started which is the largest  centralized unit of its kind in the world equipped with the most modern, comprehensive facilities for international trading in diamonds.

KY had started his career in 1949 with Jupiter Airways which later on merged with Indian Airlines.  He then moved to the Defense Audit Department of the Government of India in mid-60s.   Later on he became the Head of the Export Promotion Cell of the Ministry of Finance which was the turning point of his career.  He subsequently joined the Minerals & Metals Trading Corporation to take care of their Diamond Division. 

He was honoured by several diamond business organizations in the country such as The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council; Gujarat Diamond Export Promotion Council; Diamond Exporters Association Ltd.; Bharat Diamond Bourse; Bombay Diamond Merchants Association Ltd.; and SG Jhaveri Centre for Diamond Technology for his valuable contributions to the diamond business. 

On his sudden demise on 21st August 1994 at Mumbai, the diamond industry had the following obituary published in the Mumbai newspapers:

“Shri K.Y. Padmanabhan, Executive Vice President, Bharat Diamond Bourse, Honorary Advisor Diamond Exporter’s Association Ltd., Author: All About Diamonds.  KY, with your sudden demise, entire Diamond Industry has lost a friend, philosopher and guide.  Your contributions in planning and development of Bharat Diamond Bourse at Bandra Kurla Complex and SG Jhaveri Centre for Diamond Technology are invaluable.  All of us connected to Diamond Industry express our deep gratitude for your service.  May Your Soul Lay in Peace”

For a man of contented disposition, KY never pursued money instead he gave extra mileage to the well worn sayings, “work is worship” and “service before self” therefore he remained a man of modest means.  But never felt deprived in any way either by him or by his family.  His parents were Late Shri Chittur Ullat Raman Menon and Late Smt. Kulappura Yezuvath Kalyani Kutty Amma.  He was married to Rakkungath Parukutty (Ammu) and they have a daughter, Asha, an Ophthalmologist in US and son Rajesh, a Dentist in Mumbai.

We Chitturians are proud of Devettan!!

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