Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair
Artist, Film director
1914 – 1990
Who was Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair?
Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair was one of the most renowned Kathakali artists of any time, and arguably the greatest in the history of the four-century-old classical dance-drama from Kerala in southern India. He had fleshy, flexible and clean-cut facial features that were powerful to launch any emotion with amazing power and ease, and was intelligent enough to acquire and exhibit varied styles of Kathakali that were in vogue across Kerala during his lifetime.
A Padma Shri awardee, Krishnan Nair was a genuine all-rounder who had the caliber to emote any role in Kathakali and, what's more, add his signature flair to it. Even so, he was most widely celebrated for his essaying of the virtuous and romantic pachcha roles like Nalan, Bhiman, Arjunan, Rukmangadan and Karnan.
A native of Payyannur in Taliparamba taluk of Kannur district in North Malabar, he was initiated into Kathakali in his early teenages under the tutelage of Guru Chandu Panikker. By 19, he got noticed by Kerala Kalamandalam co-founder, poet Vallathol Narayana Menon, and inducted Krishnan Nair into his institute, then near Mulankunnathukavu, north of Thrissur in central Kerala. It was there that Krishnan Nair was trained under gurus of varied style—like Pattikkamthodi Ravunni Menon, Thakazhi Kunchu Kurup, Kavalappara Narayanan Nair and Mani Madhava Chakyar.
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