Kathakali performer and former teacher at R.L.V. College Tripunithura Kalamandalam Haridas (62) was someone with the qualities of an ascetic. He died early morning on Sunday after he complained of unease amid a performance of Santhanagopalam at Cherthala on Saturday night. The body was cremated at his native place Kudamaloor on Monday.
Says Kalamandalam Sreekumar, lecturer at RLV who worked with Haridas for over two decades since 1982, the year both joined the institution: “He was an ascetic and will be remembered as a teacher. He was able to steer clear of the trappings of artistic fame.”
Born at the culturally rich Kudamaloor, Haridas learnt Kathakali under Gurus Kunju Pillai and Kudamaloor Karunakaran Nair. Later, he also taught for a brief period at the Kudamaloor Kala Kendram.
During his student days at Kerala Kalamandalam, Haridas had the fortune of being tutored by stalwarts like Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair, Kalamandalam Padmanabhan Nair and Kalamandalam Gopi. During the years he methodically portrayed women characters in Kathakali performances, he had the occasion to play opposite legendary artistes like Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair and Kalamandalam Gopi.
Ever since his retirement from RLV in 2007, he focused on playing diverse characters. Kalamandalam Sreekumar recalls Haridas as someone who enacted characters staying within the stipulated rules; he rarely sought to break them.
He also performed other minukku roles — Damayanti, Panchali etc— and pacha (heroic) — Krishna, Arjuna etc—roles. In fact, he was playing the Brahmin (a minukku role) in Santhanagopalam on Saturday when he felt dizzy and was eventually rushed to hospital where he breathed his last.
Haridas is survived by his wife and a daughter, an engineering student.