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Chittani Ramachandra Hegde
ಚಿಟ್ಟಾಣಿ ರಾಮಚಂದ್ರ ಹೆಗಡೆ
Chittani Ramachandra Hegde
Born(1933-09-18)18 September 1933
Honnavara, Uttara Kannada, Karnataka, India
Died3 October 2017(2017-10-03) (aged 84)
Manipal, India
HonoursPadma Shri Award
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Chittani Ramachandra Hegde (1 January 1933 – 3 October 2017) was a Yakshagana artist from Honnavara, Uttara Kannada, Karnataka. He was the first Yakshagana artist to be awarded the Padma Shri Award by the Government of India.[1][2]


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Chittani Ramachandra Hegde is the first Yakshagana artist to win the prestigious Padmashri award[1] before winning several awards in Karnataka. His style is so popular that it is called Chittani Gharana. He started his Yakshagana career when he was just 7 years old, after dropping out of School when he was still studying in II Standard. He started performing in main roles when he was just 14 years old and performed on stage until a few days preceding his death in October 2017.[3] He hailed from Uttara Kannada district and is popularly known as Chittani among his huge fan base.


Chittani Ramachandra Hegde was born in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. He practised badaguthittu style of Yakshagana.[4] In spite of stiff resistance from family members, he started giving Yakshagana performances at the age of 15 and continued to act till age 83, a few days before his death.[5]

Yakshagana performances

Chittani perfected the Yakshagana performance to such a level, where he is considered as "the finest example of what one could achieve in life with hard work and achievements".[6] Chittani had performed Yakshagana all over India and abroad. He used to perform on stage better than any younger artists. The ever lasting concrete experience on stage has enabled him to master even the most vigorous and tough character of the art, he added. He had even earned praise and appreciation from the legend of Kannada cinema the late Dr Rajkumar.[7]

Chittani and Yakshagana

Chittani Ramachandra Hegde is one of the few names that Badaguthittu brings to mind. The Badagu style of Yakshagana is the coming together of dialogue, dance and acting. When all the three aspects are in the right proportion, the character that is portrayed comes out as required. This style of Yakshagana provides a great scope for the growth of the character portrayed. In fact Yakshagana is one art that provides a huge canvas for the characters to come to life. Probably no other art form offers that scope. As a result, the growth of the artiste means the growth of the character and hence the growth of the art itself.

Wearing anklets on his feet and having dedicated more than six decades of his life to Yakshagana, Chittani was an artist of very high calibre. Chittani knew no world other than Yakshagana. Even at his ripe old age, not a single day was complete without Chittani tying anklets to his feet for the dance. Chittani was also known for his generous and encouraging attitude especially towards his fellow artists.

Chittani grew up to the sounds of the Chande and Maddale. Yakshagana is very active through the year in North and South Canara and Shimoga district. Chittani, influenced by this environment since childhood, gave up his studies after class two and ever since has devoted all his time towards learning and perfecting the art of Yakshagana. Having learnt the intricacies of the art from a number of troupes and artistes like Shivarama Hegde and Kondadakuli Rama Hegde, Chittani soon rose to the level of playing the lead roles. Whichever troupe that Chittani became part of, had nothing to worry about as all the shows ran to packed houses whenever Chittani performed. It would not amount to exaggeration if one were to say that Chittani was the only 'box office hero' in the history of Yakshagana.

According to his fans, some of the characters portrayed by Chittani have actually been created by him. Bhasmasura-Mohini's Bhasmasura, Gadhayudda's Kaurava, Sudhanvarjuna's Arjuna as well as Sudhanva, Keechaka, Jarasandha, Karthaveeryarjuna, Dushtabuddhi, Maghagada, kamsa, kaladara, Rudrakopa among others, are characters which he mastered. He has grown with the characters he portrayed and the characters too have grown with him. Chittani was more of an entertaining artist.

With his performances, he drew a fan following which included Kannada stars like Dr.Raj Kumar, Uday Kumar and Sreenath. Uday Kumar, who was known for his negative roles, would attend 'all-night' Yakshagana performances at the Town Hall in Bengaluru to study Chittani's expressions. Some of the expressions enacted by Yakshagana artists are known after Chittani.[8]

Mantapa Prabhakara Upadhya, Yakshagana artiste, described Chittani as a man who had taught him humility and the need to respect even the person who bought the cheapest ticket for a show. "He once told me that one should put on banna (make-up) as if it was one's last performance. That is the highest philosophy I have learnt from Chittani", said Upadhya.[9]

The kind of life that Chittani had breathed into the character of Bhasmasura while performing on stage was unparalleled. The portrayal of the character of Bhasmasura was extraordinary. Chittani's greatest plus points were his dancing and acting abilities, it was his presentation of anger, shringara or fear, that brought him to the forefront. His two sons, Subramanya Chittani and Narasimha Chittani, are already following in the footsteps of their father and pursuing the art.

First Padmashri award for Yakshagana

Chittani Ramachandra Hegde is the first artist performing Yakshagana, to receive prestigious Padmashri award and he dedicated the award to "Yakshagana".[10]



Chittani Ramachandra Hegde fell ill with pneumonia on 29 September 2017, and died on 3 October 2017 at Manipal Hospital.



Week long Yakshagana performances in his name, styled "Chittani Yaksha Sambhrama" are conducted by his admirers at Mangalore every year.[4][22]


  1. ^ a b "Padma Shri is an honour for Yakshagana". The Hindu. 6 May 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  2. ^ "Govt announces Padma Awards 2012". hindustantimes.com/. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  3. ^ "Yakshagana artiste Chittani dead". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  4. ^ a b "All set for 'Chittani Yaksha Sambhrama'". The Hindu. 29 October 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  5. ^ S, Bageshree (23 May 2012). "When an affable man turns into an asura". The Hindu. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  6. ^ "Varsity may reserve seats for students excelling in cultural activities". The Hindu. 4 September 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  7. ^ "Udupi: Renowned Yakshagana artiste Chittani Ramachandra Hegde passes away". Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  8. ^ "Yakshagana art form loses a trendsetter, legion of fans in shock". The New Indian Express. Archived from the original on 29 December 2017. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  9. ^ "Page not found News". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Archived from the original on 3 January 2018. Retrieved 14 January 2018. ((cite news)): Cite uses generic title (help)
  10. ^ "Padma Shri is an honour for Yakshagana". The Hindu. 6 May 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
  11. ^ "Padma Shri" (PDF). Govt. of India. Min. of Home affairs. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 May 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  12. ^ "Padma awards for Kannadigas | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". dna. 26 January 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  13. ^ "Padma Shri for Anup Jalota, Dr. V. Mohan, Vanraj Bhatia". The Hindu. PTI. 25 January 2012. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  14. ^ TNN (10 October 2009). "Karanth Award to Yakshagana artist Chittani". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 26 January 2013. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  15. ^ "Three artistes chosen for State awards". The Hindu. 9 March 2005. Archived from the original on 30 September 2005. Retrieved 29 April 2024.
  16. ^ "'Chittani Yakshagana Vaibhava' on July 9". The Hindu. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  17. ^ "Recollecting the best of Yakshagana". The Hindu. 19 April 2004. Retrieved 11 August 2017.[dead link]
  18. ^ "Sri Idagunji Mahaganapati Yakshagana Mandali (R)". yakshaganakeremane.com. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  19. ^ "Soori Award for Yakshagana Veteran Ramachandra Hegde Chittani". Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  20. ^ "Alva's Nudisiri Award–2012: Mangalore Bishop Rev Dr Aloysius,Girish Kasaravalli and among 10 awardees". kemmannu.com. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  21. ^ "Moodbidri: Curtains Down on Alva's Nudisiri with Presentation of Awards". Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  22. ^ "'Chittani Yaksha Sambhrama' off to a colourful start". The Hindu. Retrieved 11 August 2017.