Vazhenkada Kunchu Nair

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Vazhenkada Kunchu Nair, also spelt Kunju Nair, (1909-1981) was an outstanding Kathakali mastero of the 20th century. He was a unique legendary personality who was a brilliant performer, an excellent guru (teacher) and a scholar in Sanskrit that nobody could match in the world of Kathakali. He mainly served in two of the great institutions of Kathakali in Kerala as their Guru, first in PSV Natya Sangham, Kottakkal Since 1946 and from 1960 to 1972 at Kerala Kalamandalam. He was the first principal of Kerala Kalamandalam, the premier performing arts institute of Kerala in south India. [1] A Padma Shri and Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee , [2] Kunchu Nair was a frontline disciple of the legendary Pattikkamthodi Ramunni Menon, and was noted for his subdued portrayal of lead Kathakali roles like Nalan, Rukmangadan, Dharmaputrar, Bhiman, Arjunan, Brahmanan (in the storyplay Santanagopalam) and Parasuraman (Sitaswayamvaram) besides in anti-hero slots like Ravanan and Duryodhanan. [3]

A native of Vazhenkada, now in Malappuram district, Kunchu Nair was initiated into Kathakali by gurus Kariyattil Koppan Nair and Kalluvazhi Govinda Pisharody. Subsequently, he became a disciple of Pattikkamthodi. Kunchu Nair, who also taught at the PSV Natyasangham in Kottakkal, has eminent disciples like C. R. Raman Namboodiri, Kottakkal Krishnankutty Nair, Kottakkal Appu Nair, Kottakkal Gopi Nair, Manghat Narayanan Nair, Raghavan Nair, KK Narayanankutty Panicker, Sankaranarayanan Embranthiri, Kottakkal Sivaraman, Kottakkal Kutty Krishnan, Vazhenkada Vijayan, an ex-principal of Kerala Kalamandalam, is his son. Nelliyode Vasudevan Namboodiri, Kottakkal Sambhu Embranthiri, Kalamandalam Vasu Pisharody, E.Vasudevan Nair and Kottakkal Chandrasekharan. Nair died on 19 February 1981 after prolonged illness.

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  2. "SNA Awardees' List". Sangeet Natak Akademi. 2016. Archived from the original on May 30, 2015. Retrieved February 5, 2016.
  3. Kathakali Encyclopedia (Vijnanakosam), page 319