Padma Bhushan-winning Kathakali exponent Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair, 88, passed away at his house at Vellinezhi, near Palakkad, on Monday. He is survived by wife Saraswathy, daughter Vijayalakshmi and sons Narayanankutty and Appukuttan.
Disciple of Pattikanthodi Ravunni Menon, a legendary Kathakali mentor, Ramankutty Nair was one of the truest exponents of ‘Kalluvazhi Chitta,’ the school propagated by Ravunni Menon. For the purity of his style and the trail he blazed as a practitioner and teacher of ‘Kalluvazhi Chitta,’ Ramankutty Nair was known as ‘Panini of Kathakali.’
He became famous for his role of Parasurama in ‘Sita Swayamvaram,’ which became his trade mark in his early days. He was the most appreciated for his enactment of Ravana, Duryodhana, Keechaka and other negative heroes in the category of performance called ‘katthi vesham.’
He also excelled in the role of Hanuman in Thoranayudham and Kalyanasougadhikam. There is hardly anyone who did the role as many times as he did. His Mudras (gestures) and Kalasams (pure dance) were pure and perfect, a pleasure to watch when he employed them with practised ease, E. Samapalan, Kathakali critic, said.
Ramankutty Nair, who studied in Kerala Kalamandalam, later became its Principal. He wrote his autobiography ‘Thiranottam,’ and the famous filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan made a documentary film on the legendary artist