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Heli Tourism

Enchanting Kerala


ISSUE: 217


Kalamandalam K.G. Vasudevan Nair

Kalamandalam Kombil Gopalan Vasudevan Nair, renowned Kathakali maestro, has a life totally dedicated to this great art form of Kerala. Age has never put a shackle on the talents of this artist, for even at 70 plus he is performing with the same finesse and brilliance with which he started his career. Last month the veteran artiste awed the audience in Poland with his enticing performance. Most recently he was honoured with the 2010 Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Kathakali.

Born in 1937 in Keerikkat village in Kerala, Vasudevan Nair started his training at the age of 11. Evoor Raghavan Pillai, who lived in his neighbourhood, was his first teacher. Vasudevan Nair spent four years with him and went to Kalamandalam at the age of 14. There he was blessed with the eminent guidance of people like Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair and Kalamandalam Padmanabhan Nair.

The rigorous practice sessions in Kalamandalam polished his talents. He had to restart his training from the very basics at Kalamandalam, because of the difference of styles in Kathakali in north and south Kerala. He is among those few artistes who had the fortune to meet and share some unforgettable times with eminent poet Vallathol Narayana Menon, the founder of Kalamandalam.

Vasudevan Nair specialised in the Kalluvazhi style of Kathakali. His Pacha and Kathi veshams have brought him much acclaim from the audience and critics alike.

Among the countless roles he has breathed life into; Vasudevan Nair is best remembered for his portrayal of Rugmangada, Nala, Bahuka, Krishna, Keechaka and Ravana. He is also popular for his female portrayals. When Vasudevan Nair comes in the role of Urvashi in Kalakeyavadham, Lalitha in Narakasuravadham, Damayanti in Nalacharitam or Mohini in Rugmangada Charitam, it gives the audience a totally different experience.

Vasudevan Nair’s brilliant rendering has inspired spectators of different nations. His lecture-demonstration at prestigious international festivals has taken the audience to the detailed nuances of this art form. Vasudevan Nair is also a guru to several acclaimed artistes including Sadanam Krishnan Kutty and Sadanam Balakrishnan.
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