When little Subbudu walked with his father to a nearby Brahmin residence to watch Kathakali, none had the thought that this boy would one day climb all the pinnacles of this great art form. Subbudu was reluctant to stop the quest for this centuries-old dance drama of Kerala. And this quest took him to the Principal of Kerala Kalamandalam; the prestigious institute for learning the traditional art forms of Kerala.
For Professor Kalamandalam C. M. Balasubrahmanian art and music was in his blood. His father C. V. Rama Warrier and mother Thankamani Warasyar both knew Carnatic music. His father was also an accomplished Kathakali musician. Born in a little hamlet called Kothachira, in Palakkad District, Balasubrahmanian left his native village at the age of 13 to join Kerala Kalamandalam. Here the young Balasubrahmanian's talents were nurtured and polished by two great veterans in the filed - Padmabhushan Dr. Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair and Padmasree Kalamandalam Gopi. After finishing his training at Kalamandalam, which extended to more than a decade, Balasubrahmanian was offered a post as Kathakali instructor at Kalamandalam.
Among the numerous characters he gave life to, Balasubrahmanian is most remembered for his pacha and kathi veshams(character types). The pacha vesham with its predominant green colour is used to portray noble male characters like kings and divine beings. Kathi characters are arrogant and evil, but have a streak of valour in them. His Lord Krishna in pacha vesham and Ravana (the demon king in the Indian epic Ramayana) in kathi vesham have been praised by his peers and the connoisseurs alike.
Balasubrahmanian's magnetic performance has enticed audience around the globe. He has performed in many countries including USA, Canada, Mexico, Moscow, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Japan and Singapore. Apart from the performance, he has also associated with the production of several documentaries on Kathakali like 'Pacha' a docu-drama on his life and works produced in 2008 and 'What is Kathakali?' an educational film about the art, produced by Kerala Kalamandalam. During this inimitable journey, numerous awards and accolades have come his way, including the prestigious David Boland Gold Medal.
Prof. Kalamandalam Balasubrahmanian retired as Principal of Kerala Kalamandalam in 2011. But he has not refrained from enticing spectators with his performance and is still imparting knowledge about this fascinating art to his younger generations.