Mangalore, Feb 23, 2012: Chittani Ramachandra Hegde, the name is synonymous to the quintessential villain in Yakshagana. Popularly known as Chittani, the name of his birthplace in Honavar, this artiste through his performance par excellence has taken Yakshagana to greater heights in his own ways. Today, rightly, the prestigious Padmashree Award has come his way, at the age of 77 and what makes his nomination for the award more distinct is that he is the first Yakshagana artiste to have been selected for this Award.
Chittani had developed a fascination for the art at a very young age and dropped school while he was just in second standard to pursue the art, despite the not so good encouragement from his family with an agricultural background. Simply taken over by the art, young Chittani was inspired by great artistes of the times like Kondadakuli Rama Hegde andLakshman Hegde. The Kalidasa Charitre of Kadathoka Manjunatha Bhavagavatha gave Chittani the much needed break. Whichever Mela he joined, Chittani was always known for his superb performance in villain roles like Dushtabuddhi, Keechaka, Bhasmasura and Kaurava etc. Hegde launched his own Yakshagana troupe, Bachchagar Panchalingeshwara Mela, in 1998. He was also instrumental in popularising the art in the US.
Chittani may not be able to do his roles with the same vigour and vitality now, but he sure can do justice to the role through his facial expressions par none. Over the years he had also evolved his own form of Kunitha came to be known as Chittani Kunitha. His over six decade long Yakshagana career has earned him several prestigious awards including Janapadashree Award and Dr Shivaram Karanth Hometown Award.