The Kathakali veteran’s portrayal of Lord Krishna and Kuchela always left the audience spellbound and his last notable public performance was at the age of 100.

Veteran Kathakali exponent Chemancheri Kunhiraman Nair speaking at a public eventAuthor: Vengolis/ Wikimedia Commons/ CCBYSA4.0
news Obituary Monday, March 15, 2021 - 11:14

Veteran Kathakali exponent Guru Chemancheri Kunhiraman Nair died at his residence at nearby Cheliya in Koyilandi early on Monday, family sources said. He was 105.

He had been honoured with the Padma Shree in 2017 in recognition of his glorious contribution to the art form.

His portrayal of Lord Krishna and Kuchela on stage always left the audience spellbound and his lastnotable public performance was at the age of 100.

Chemancheri Kunhiraman Nair's tryst with Kathakali, the ancient dance drama of Kerala, began at the age of 14, when he left his home to join a kathakali troupe run by Guru Karunakaran Menon.

Age was never a barrier for the veteran artist who had relentless journey for nearly nine decades with his specialisation in "Kalladikodan" style in Kathakali.

After years of practice and hard work, he founded Bharatiya Natyakalalayam in 1945, which was the first school of dance in north Kerala and later went on to establish several other dance schools, includingthe Cheliya Kathakali Vidyalayam in his native village, about 30 km from here.

The institution conducts courses on different aspects of Kathakali and has a full-fledged Kathakali troupe.

Several awards and recognitions came his way over the years including that of the Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Akademi and Kerala Kalamandalam.

Born to Chadayankandy Chathukutty Nair and Kinattinkara Kunhamnakutty Amma on June 16, 1916, Kunhiraman Nair had his debut performance at Keezhpayur Kuniyil Paradevatha temple in 1930.

Since then there was no looking back for the Kunhiraman Nair, who performed even after he completed 100 years.

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