Born in 1924 in the village of Chennithala in Alleppey district of Kerala, Shri Chennithala Chellappan Pillai received his Initial training in Kathakali from his grandfather Chennithala Kochu Pillai Panicker. He was later trained by the renowned guru Chengannur Raman Pillai. A leading representative of the southern school of Kathakali, Shri Chellappan Pillai is today one of the most popular exponents of the art. Since his debut at 15 in the role of Krishna, he has performed various paccha vesham roles to great acclaim. He is best known for roles such as Rugmangada, Arjuna, and Hamsam. Shri Chellappan Pillai has performed widely in Kerala and. other parts of the country. He has also presented Kathakali abroad. For his excellence in the art, he has been honoured by various institutions includi'ng Kerala Kalamandalam. Shri Chellappan Pillai receives the Sangeet Natak Akademl Award for his contribution to Kathakali.