Legendary namesake’s family distances itself from row over dancer

Several people called the family of the late Padma Shri awardee Kalamandalam V. Satyabhama, the first woman Principal of Kalamandalam, after the controversy involving Kalamandalam Satyabhama; Kalamandalam and Sreekumaran Thampi condemn Satyabhama’s remarks

March 21, 2024 09:05 pm | Updated 09:05 pm IST - PALAKKAD

Mohiniyattam guru Kalamandalam V. Satyabhama, who died in 2015.

Mohiniyattam guru Kalamandalam V. Satyabhama, who died in 2015.

The family of Kalamandalam V. Satyabhama, the first woman Principal of Kerala Kalamandalam who immortalised the Kalamandalam school of Mohiniyattam, distanced itself from the controversy ignited by the remarks of Thiruvananthapuram-based artiste Kalamandalam Satyabhama.

Kerala Kalamandalam too condemned Ms. Satyabhama and her views, saying that they were unfit for a civilised society. In a joint statement, Kalamandalam Vice-Chancellor B. Ananthakrishnan and Registrar Rajeshkumar P. said that using the title of Kalamandalam with the name of people who make uncivilised remarks would be an insult to the institution.

The statement said that Ms. Satyabhama, a former student of Kalamandalam, had nothing else to do with the institution. The controversy kicked up by Ms. Satyabhama has rather peeved the family of Kalamandalam V. Satyabhama. Several people called the late Padma Shri awardee’s family on Thursday, mistaking the identity of Ms. Satyabhama.

Winner of many honours, including Padma Shri, Central and State Sangeet Natak Akademy Awards, Keraleeya Nritya-Natya Puraskaram and Kerala Kalamandalam Fellowship, Kalamandalam V. Satyabhama died in on September 13, 2015.

On winning the Padma Shri in 2014, she famously said: “I feel that my husband (Kalamandalam Padmanabhan Nair) deserved the Padma Shri more. I dedicate it to him.” Padmanabhan Nair’s contributions to Kathakali were immense.

Family’s stance

V. Sasikumar, the youngest son of Padmanabhan Nair and Satyabhama, told The Hindu that the art world would know both the Satyabhamas and the difference. “We don’t need to introduce our mother to the art world. The art world knows our mother and the Satyabhama who is now in the thick of a controversy,” said Mr. Sasikumar, who is a project manager with Kerala State Development Corporation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Mr. Sasikumar and his siblings had complained to Kerala Kalamandalam in 2019 against Ms. Satyabhama when she had dragged the late legend’s name into a controversy. Kerala Kalamandalam then ousted her from a post she held there.

‘Cannot compare’

Lyricist Sreekumaran Thampi too joined the issue on Thursday, saying that comparing Ms. Satyabhama with the legendary Mohiniyattam artiste would be a great injustice. In a statement, Mr. Thampi said that the legendary Mohiniyattam artiste had done the dance choreography in two of his films, Gaanam and Bandhukkal Shatrukkal.

“Kalamandalam V. Satyabhama, wife of Kalamandalam Padmanabhan Nair, was a legend. One should not compare her with Ms. Satyabhama, who made such unjustifiable remarks against RLV Ramakrishnan,” said Mr. Thampi.

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