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.A Padma Shri and Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee , 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.
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.
Guru Kunju Kurup (1881-1970) was one of the most famous Kathakali artistes to have born and celebrated in south Kerala, and gained popularity in central and north Kerala as well.
Kavalappara Narayanan Nair (1882–1948) was a prominent 20th-century Kathakali artiste and tutor who specialised in the Hanuman roles of the classical dance-drama from Kerala in south India.
Kottakkal Sivaraman was a performing artiste who revolutionised the portrayal of female roles in Kathakali, the classical dance-drama from Kerala in southern India.
Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair was one of the most renowned Kathakali artists of any time, and arguably the greatest in the history of the four-century-old classical dance-drama from Kerala in southern India. He had fleshy, flexible and clean-cut facial features that were powerful to launch any emotion with amazing power and ease, and was intelligent enough to acquire and exhibit varied styles of Kathakali that were in vogue across Kerala during his lifetime.
Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair was a performer of Kathakali, who practiced the Kerala art form for more than seven decades.
Guru Kelu Nair was a renowned Kathakali dance artist and teacher.
Gandhi Seva Sadan is a Kathakali institution located in Perur village, some 12 kilometres east of Ottapalam in Palakkad district of north-central Kerala in southern India. It was founded in 1953 by the (late) Gandhian and freedom fighter K. Kumaran, equally known for his unflagging devotion to the promotion of the arts.
Keezhpadam Kumaran Nair (1916–2007) was a Kathakali artists from Kerala, India. Endowed with a life profile that also exposed him to several traditional Indian performing arts other than Kathakali, his stage presentation infused a fresh breath into the four-century-old art form, thanks also to his broad and deep view about the Puranas that spurred from a constant pursuit of knowledge through reading books and engaging in talks in scholars.
Vazhenkada is a village, known for its Kathakali heritage, on the banks of the river Thootha in Malappuram district of Kerala in southern India. The nearest small towns are Cherpulassery to its south and Perintalmanna to its north, both eight kilometres away.
Kalamandalam Padmanabhan Nair (1928–2007) was an eminent Kathakali exponent, equally known for his capacities as a tutor, theoretician and author of a few authentic texts on the classical dance-drama from Kerala in south India. A son of the Kathakali guru Pattikkamthodi Ravunni Menon, Padmanabhan Nair was one of the early-batch students in Kerala Kalamandalam, where he subsequently joined as a teacher and retired as its principal in 1990. He died on 3 April 2007, at his home in Shoranur, near his alma mater, where he led his post-professorial life with wife and Mohiniyattam exponent and guru, Kalamandalam Satyabhama.
Pattikkamthodi Ravunni Menon (1880-1948) was a pivotal figure in the history of Kathakali, having played a crucial role in remoulding and refining its grammar in the famed Kalluvazhi tradition of the classical dance-drama from Kerala in south India. He was trained in the art form at a culture-patronising Namboodiri mansion in Vellinezhi near his home, even as his genius ensured that Menon later redrew the aesthetics of Kathakali and its future profile altogether.
Kalamandalam Vasu Pisharody is a leading Kathakali artiste known for his restrained portrayal of character roles in the classical dance-drama of Kerala in south India. A frontline disciple of Padma Shri Vazhenkada Kunchu Nair, he excels in virtuous pachcha, anti-hero Kathi and the semi-realistic minukku roles alike. Nalan, Bahukan, Arjunan, Bhiman, Dharmaputrar, Rugmangadan, Narakaasuran, Ravanan, Parashuraman and Brahmanan are his masterpieces.
Sadanam Krishnankutty is a cultural artist and a popular performer of Kathakali, a unique classical dance-drama form of Kerala, South India. A recipient of Kerala State Kathakali award and Kalamandalam fellowship, he is reputed for his skill in donning a wide range of characters in his acts. He received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2007.
Nelliyode Vasudevan Namboodiri or Nelliyod Vasudevan Namboodiri is a Kathakali artiste, noted primarily for his vibrant portrayal of the evil chuvanna thaadi roles of the classical Kathakali dance-drama from Kerala in south India.
Kottakkal Chandrasekharan was a senior Kathakali artiste known for his portrayal of the virtuous pachcha and anti-heroic Kathi roles in the classical dance-drama from Kerala in south India. Born at Naduvattam near Pattambi in Palakkad district in 1945, he was a prominent disciple of Padma Shri Vazhenkada Kunchu Nair and Kottakkal Krishnankutty Nair. His father was A.M. Kumaraswami Bhattathiripad and mother was P.V. Parukkutty Warassiar.
Kalamandalam Krishnankutty Poduval (1924-1992) was a self-taught maestro of Kathakali percussion who excelled in the art of chenda playing by redefining its aesthetics as an audio accompaniment for the classical dance-drama from Kerala in south India.
Kalamandalam Appukutty Poduval (1924–2008) was a maddalam maestro who rose to prominence by his aesthetically pleasing taps on the instrument—a vital percussion accompaniment for Kathakali, the classical dance-drama from Kerala in south India. A disciple of the legendary Venkichan Swami, he, along with chenda exponent, Kalamandalam Krishnankutty Poduval, ushered in a new spring in the acoustics of their performing art.
Vazhenkada Vijayan is a senior Kathakali exponent and a retired principal of Kerala Kalamandalam, the performing art institute where he was trained in the classical dance-drama from Kerala in southern India.
Kudamaloor Karunakaran Nair (1916-2000) was a pioneering Kathakali artiste who brought to prominence female characters in the classical dance-drama from Kerala in south India.
Kalamandalam Gangadhran was a prominent Kathakali musician from Kerala. His unique tenor and accent has earned him a large audience both within and outside Kerala. He was the most prominent disciple of Kalamandalam Neelakandan Nambeesan, and the Master of the many later generations of Kathakali Musicians. He was a visiting professor at Margi, an organization dedicated to the revival of Kathakali and Kutiyattom, two classical art forms of Kerala. In 2006, he was honoured by the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.
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