K. K. GOPALAKRISHNAN
Kottakkal Chandrasekhara Warrier received the Sangeet Natak Akademi award for Kathakali acting.
The systematic training I received at Kottakkal helped me become the artiste I am. Kottakkal Chandrasekhara WarrierThe Sangeet Natak Akademi award for Kathakali came as both a New Year and birthday gift for Kathakali exponent Kottakkal Chandrasekhara Warrier, whose birthday falls on January 15. Chandrasekharan, a native of Palakkad, was initiated into Kathakali in 1957 under Chettallor Kuttan Panikkar. He then underwent training at P.S.V. Natya Sangham, Kottakal, which adhered to the traditional Kalluvazhi tradition of Kathakali. Maestros like Vazhengada Kunju Nair, Kottakkal Krishnankutty Nair and Kottakkal Gopi Nair taught him. He was absorbed by his alma mater upon completion of his course in 1970. At present, he is the chief instructor and lead actor of the Natya Sangham. One of the first from his community to venture into the field of Kathakali, his adherence to the stylised and technique-oriented Kalluvazhi tradition and his ability to enact all kinds of roles, both `pacha' and `kathi,' are the highlights of his performance. "I think the systematic training I received at Kottakkal helped me become the artiste I am," he says. Royalty on stage, both in appearance and execution of performance, are unambiguously his forte. Undoubtedly, his adherence to the rigid grammar of Kathakali's northern style is evident in all his portrayals. His characters like Ravana, Keechaka, Narakasura, Duryodhana (all in `kathi' make-up), Nala, Bahuka and the Pandavas, especially Dharmaputhra of `Krimeeravadham' and Arjuna of `Kalakeyavadham,' (`pacha' roles) blossom on stage with the stylised vibrancies of Kathakali aesthetics.
Training and practiceAccording to Chandrasekharan, it was years of rigorous training and practice that helped reach him to such heights in a field where seniority matters. He also does a detailed homework on the characters and his fellow artistes' interpretation of the characters. It is probably such dedication that makes his portrayal of Bahuka (`Nalacharitam' Three and Four) and Dharmaputhra of `Krimeeravadham' perfect. Truly, his artistry is the result of dedication to his art and talent.