Kathakali maestro Chemancheri Kunhiraman Nair dead

Chemancheri Kunhiraman Nair performed even after he completed 100 years. | File  

Guru Chemancheri Kunhiraman Nair, the Kathakali actor who also played a significant role in making classical dances like Bharatanatyam popular in north Kerala, died here on Monday. He was 105.

Remarkably, he continued to perform till a few years ago. Age could not wither his enthusiasm.

After learning the Kallatikkodan school of Kathakali, from Guru Karunakara Menon, he began performing from the age of 15. He continued to perform even late into his 90s. One recalls watching him enacting the role of Parashurama with great vigour at the Town Hall here a few years ago.

His contribution as a teacher of classical dances in north Kerala, at a time when there were few practitioners, cannot be overstated. He trained several youngsters, who later became dance teachers.

Chemancheri Kunhiraman Nair had been honoured with the Padma Shree in 2017. | File

Chemancheri Kunhiraman Nair had been honoured with the Padma Shree in 2017. | File  

Chemancheri, a recipient of Padma Shri, was, in fact, the first guru of actor Vineeth, who is widely regarded as one of the finest male dancers in Baharatanatyam today. He had in fact performed at a function to celebrate Chemancheri’s 99th birthday, in 2015.

Shortly after his performance, Vineeth had told this correspondent that he was delighted to perform for his guru in front of a large audience.

Chemancheri was indeed a popular figure whom you would come across at various cultural functions in the city. With his long well-kempt hair and bright smile he could easily stand out from a crowd.

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.

He will be missed by the cultural Kerala.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 6:03:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/kathakali-maestro-chemancheri-kunhiraman-nair-dead/article34071645.ece

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