Thursday, June 28, 2012


Guru Gopinath  was an  exponent of various forms of classical dances like Bharathanatyam,
Kuchupudi etc  and undergone vigorous training for Kathakali dance also.
He was born in a family which has two hundred years of Kathakali dance tradition.The famous Kathakali dancer and  teacher 'Guru Kunchu Kurup' was a member of his family.
Well famous Kathakali artists Champakkulam Paramu Pillai was his grand father and Champakkulam Pachu Pillai was his elder brother.
Gopinath was born on 24 June 1908 at Champakkulam at Kuttanadu of Alappuzha District.
His parents were  Madhavi Amma and Sankara Pillai.

Champakkulam Paramu Pillai,Mathur kunju Pillai Panicker, Thakazhy Kesava Panicker etc were his teachers in Classical dance and Kathakali initially.
When kerala Kalamandalam was started,  Vallathol Narayana Menon admitted him as a special student in the first batch for dance and Kathakali courses.The famous dancer Ananda
Sivaram and Kathakali artist Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair were also students of Kerala Kalamandaam during that period  with him.
Guru with an American girl
Highly efficient teachers taught him the lessons of dance and Kathakali including the expressions 'abhinaya' such that Guru Goinath acquired the special talent to display the nine
'Nava Rasa' expressions brilliantly on his face very fast.He had the rare talent to visualize two expressions on each half of his face the same time.
At Kerala Kala Mandalam Guru Gopinath became an expert of Northern style of Kathakali 
which is known as "Kalluvazhy" and for getting the southern style 'Kaplinganadu style' of Kathakali training he 
became the disciple of Guru Chengannur Raman Pillai and stayed at his residence at Chengannur  as a 'Gurukula System' student.Thus he became an expert in both Northern and southern style of Kathakali dance and also meanwhile he was a brilliant dancer in all classical dance forms too.
His wife Tahankamani Amma was the first student of ' Mohiniyattam'  at Kalamandalam.
Guru Gopinath made Kathakali dance more popular.He trained girls also in Kathakali dance 
and proved that it    suits for them also.He introduced biblical stories and social subjects  also  for  Kathakali.He is one of the eminent person who helped to boost Kathakali  a popular
art form among common people.
Guru Gopinath but did not stick to Kthakali alone  but he formed  a Ballet troupe and conducted
ballet dance at several places in India and abroad.He had performances in U.S.A., U.S.S.R.,European Countries etc.

Rabindranath Tagore wrote a note  in appreciation about his dancing skill after witnessing it.The Ravindra Bharathi University granted him a Doctorate in his  honor. 
Guru Gopinath  invented a new style of dancing which he named as 'Kerala Natanam' which
is gaining popularity at present and it is  included in competitions now a days.It is a  special style of classical dance
mixed with Kathakali dance.
Guru Gopinath with Thankamani Amma in their old age 

He established dance training centers as 'Natya Niketan'at Chennai,Viswa Kala Kendra at Trivandrum and Int'l Kathakali Center at Delhi.
He acted in the third talkie cinema  in Malayalam 'Prahlada' and later in movies 'Bhakta Kuchela' and ' Jesus Christ'.
He was a great dancer whose wish was fulfilled by God.He wanted to die on stage while dancing and it happened in reality  on 9 Oct 1997 at Fine Arts Hall at Ernakulam when he was enacting as 'Dasaratha' in the ballet 'Ramayana'.
Kerala  Government established 'Guru Gopinath Natana Gramam',  a dance Village at Vattiyoorkavu in Trivandrum  in his memory and  have  plans to establish a museum in his name.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Mavelikkara  K.Velukkutty Nair is an exponent in playing the percussion instrument 'Mridangam' and he was  Professor and Head of the department of Mridangam at Swathi Thirunal Music College,Trivandrum.
Velukkutty Nair was born on 26 October 1926 at 'Chettikulangara Eerezha South' of Mavelikkara to parents Karthiyayani Amma and Mridanga Maestro  Muthukulam S.Kumara Pillai.
He started learning  Mridangam from his father from the age of seven itself.His 'Arangettam' (first public performance) was held when he was 11 years old at Kandiyoor 
Mahadeva Temple at Mavelikkara.
Later he had undergone  'Gurukula type of  training ' in Mridangam from Maestro Palghat
Mani Iyer for a period of eight years by staying at his residence.
From 1950 on wards he received name and  fame as a expert 'mridangist'.
Umayalpuram Sivaraman and Palakkad Raghu were  also disciples of Palakkad Mani Iyer
along with Velukkutty Nair.

From 1959  he worked at Thiruvananthapuram Swathi Thirunal Music College as
teacher of Mridangam.He later became the professor and Head of that department  and worked there till 1982.
He was visiting professor in that Institution during 84-85.

Professor Mavelikkara Velukkutty Nair earned very good opinion from critics and music lovers as an expert percussionist.This maestro always stood apart as a great mridangist and
displayed high level of professionalism  in concerts.He accompanied all the eminent
vocalists of that period  in  concerts for about   six decades.Those musicians includes Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar,Semmangudi Sreenivasa Iyer,M.D.Ramanathan, D.K.Pattammal,D.K.Jayaraman,M.L.Vasantha Kumari,M.Balamurali Krishna,
T.N.Krishnan,Lalgudi Jayaraman,K.J.Jesudas,Parassala Ponnammal,Sankaran Nampoothiri etc.
His disciples includes Thiruvantapuram V.Surendran,Parassala Ravi, T.V.Vasan(Ghatam)
R.Vaidyanathan etc.He is top artist of All India Radio.
He received Kerala  Sangeetha Nataka  Academy award in 1981
He received Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy Fellowship in 1998
Sangeetha Kalacharya title from Music Academy Chennai 
Golden Jubilee Award from Dr.Semmangudi Sreenivasa Iyer foundation,Chennai in 2002
Gayaka Ratna title from Swathi Thirunal Sangeetha Sabha Trivandrum in 2000
Ganalaya  Visharath from Travancore Devaswom Board in 1994
Guruvayoorappan Chembai Award from Guruvayoor Devaswom in2008
Golden Jubilee Award from Swathi Thirunal Sangeetha Sabha,Thiruvanathapuram in 1992
Thulasivanam Award from Thulasivanam Trust Trivandrum in 1996
Prathibha Pranamam by Manaveeyam Govt. of Kerala
Vadya Kulapathi title from Kaladarpanam, Aluva in 2002
Sangeetha Sampoorna title from Poornathrayeesa Sangeetha Sabha,Thripunithura

He is  recipient of several other awards also from India and  Abroad.

Monday, June 18, 2012


Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi was a first class cricketer and former Captain of Indian Cricket team.He was the ninth Nawab of Princely state of Pataudi until 1971.
He was the son of eighth Nawab of Pataudi Iftikhar Ali Khan. His mother who was the wife of Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi was Sajida Sultan, the daughter of last ruling Nawab of Bhopal.
Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi was also known as Pataudi Jr.  and was nick named as 'Tiger Pataudi'.He was also famous by the short form of his name as M.A.K.Pataudi .He was born 
Pataudi introducing team members to Queen Elizabeth II
on 5 Jan 1941.
His father Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi was  educated in England and was a cricket player while
as a student  at England.He had been captain of  England team and later Indian team also.
Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi was born at Bhopal  and studied at a School in Aligarh and then in Dehradun.Then he  studied at Lockers Park Prep. School in Hertfordshire and at Winchester
Mansoor's father died when  he was 11 years old in 1952.Afterwards Mansoor was known as
the Nawab of Pataudi till 1971 when India Government abolished the entitlements given to the 
former rulers of Princely States.
While he was  studying in the school at Hertfordshire and later in  the College at Winchester
he was very active playing in  the cricket team.He  was the captain of the school team in 1959
scoring 1068 runs that season.He also won the public School Championship with partner Christopher Snell.
Mansoor met with an accident while he was travelling in a car in 1961 at Hove.The windscreen of the car broke and a small piece of glass penetrated in to his right eye causing
permanent damage to that eye.His vision was affected by that accident and he was seeing
double image through that eye.The right handed medium paced bowler and right handed batsman returned to the world pf cricket within six months of the accident.Due to the double
image of his right eye he used to cover that eye with his head cap and managed to play as
usual.It was his determination,courage,confidence and practice made it possible to continue
with the cricket  by brilliantly covering the eye with the cap.He played wonderful cricket
against England in Dec 1961.
He was made vice captain of the team in 1962 for the tour to West Indies. He was made captain soon.At 21 years old
it was a world record to be the youngest test Captain.
He played 46 test Matches for India between 1961 and 1975.Out of the 46 matches 9 was
won, 19 was draw and 19 was defeat.
His victories include the first ever test match overseas against New Zealand  in 1968.
He lost Captaincy in 1970 and later returned as Captain in 1973 and lead India against West Indies in 1974-75.He retired in 1975.
He wrote autobiography in the name 'Tigers Tale' in 1969.
Pataudi married film actress Sharmila Tagore in1967 and they have  three Children.Their

son  Saif Ali Khan is an established and  famous actor of  Bollywood.
Pataudi jr. expired on 22 Sept 2011.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Kalamandalam Sankaran Embranthiri will be ever remembered by those who love 'Kathakali' for implementing a new style in the rendition of Kathakali songs.In the art form
of Kathakali the characters do not speak or sing but playback singing is employed and  the
details of the characters and their dialects are all included in the verses of the songs known
as 'Aattakadha'.Several  mythological stories are converted to Kathakali 'Aattakadha' by
famous poets and these are generally used for Kathakali performance.Many people knows
the stories of Kathakali and by viewing the scenes they will understand what is being enacted.More over in recent years a brief description of the  scenes  will be announced to
the audience prior to the sequences  and those who does not know the story can also understand  and enjoy it.
The meaning of the verses rendered by the Kathakali musicians were not in a style to understand properly that many of the audiences did not bother to give an year to it.They ignored what was sung there on the stage  but just concentrated on the acting and dance of the characters.
This phenomenon was completely changed by Sankaran Embranthiri with the help of his
contemporary Kathakali musicians Kalamandalam Hyder Ali and Kalamandalam Venmony Haridas.
Sankaran Embranthiri  was born in 1944 and he was a student of Kerala Kalamandalam for
Kathakali Music.While he was a student at the Institute he did not display any special talents.
After passing out from Kerala Kalamandalam he was employed at 'Irinjalakuda Unnayi Warrier Smaraka Kala Nilayam' in the year 1965.
In the year 1970 he was employed at FACT Kathakali School, Kochi.During that period 
his intrinsic talents provoked and he started a new style of rendition.Sankaran Embranthiri

possessed a baritone which when filled with emotion and crystal clearly rendered within
the alignment of 'sotto' it reached the hearts of the audience.The emotion filled sweet melodious voice  and audible crystal clear verses were entering in to the minds of the people and they were forced to listen to it, understand the meanings of what was being sung.  A new 
feeling of enjoyment of Kathakali  was a varied  experience for most of the spectators which
they never felt till then.The name and fame of Sankaran Embranthiri spread very soon and
other singers also tried to sing in the new style initiated by Embranthiri.Kalamandalam Hyderali and Kalamandalam Haridas during this period accompanied Embranthiri  to several
stages of Kathakali to assist him as 'Sinkidi' (second) singer.Both of them were also having
crystal clear charismatic voice and so could earn the love and appreciation of the Kathakali
lovers.They also helped to spread the new style of singing which most of the singers are
following today.
Sankaran Embranthiri fell ill during 1990 due to kidney disease and he had a kidney transplant the next year.He returned to the Kathakali stages within a few months.But after a few years due to acute diabetes amputation of his right leg was done.Embranthiri still continued his Kathakali music rendering sagaciously watching the actions of the Kathakali
actors and singing emotively and  appropriate to the situations.
Kathakali actors such as Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair,Kalamandalam Gopi,Kalamandalam
Ramankutty Nair etc appreciated Embranthiri's rendition.Embranthiri had a massive fan
following and had performed Kathakali music concerts as per their requests.
He got Swathi Sangeetha Puraskar and Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy Fellowship.
Sankaran Embranthiri had composed music for full 'Aattakadha' also like for  the 'Panchali Mahatmyam' which was written by 'Mambatta Muralidharan Nampoothiri.'He gave the
music and sung for the  first Kathakali performance of that story at Guruvayoor Melpathur
Sankaran Embranthiri passed away on 14 Nov 2007.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Chennithala Chellappan Pillai earned fame,reputation and love  from art lovers all over
the Globe by his impressive style of presentation of Kathakali dance  and dedication.He was active in the field
of Kathakali for a very long period and an expert of the 'Thekkan Chitta' (Southern style).
Chennithala Chellappan Pillai was the son of parents Parvathy Amma and Krishna Panicker.
His grandfather Chennithla Kochupilla Panicker was a well known Kathakali artiste.
He started to learn Kathakali from his grandfather at the  age of 13.His 'arangettam' was held
at 'Chennithala Thriperunthura Mahadeva Temple' at the age of 15.
After  the death of his grandfather, he accepted Chengannur Raman Pillai Asan as his Guru
and undergone many years of training  with him.There were other students such as Oyur Kochu Govinda Pillai,Haripad Ramakrishna Pillai,Mankombu Sivasankara Pillai,Madavur Vasudevan Nair etc for learning Kathakali,  staying at the residence of ' Guru Chengannur Raman Pillai' at
that time.Chennithala Chellappan Pillai also joined with those students and undergone severe
Chennithala Chellappan Pillai as "Hamsam' with 'Nalan'
training for several years and became an expert in this art form without the backup of any other Institution.
Guru Chengannur Raman Pillai used to take his disciples also to places where his Kathakali was
Chennithala 2nd  row first 
playing and allowed his students to view and practice what was taught to them.They could
understand the differences if any and to rectify their own mistakes also.
Chennithala Chellappan Pillai was carved out to  manifest 'Pacha,Kathi and Kari' characters and
earned name and fame for his characters "Rugmangada,Kachan,Karnan,Arjunan,Bheeman,Krishnan and Sreeraman".
His 'Hamsam' of Nalacharitham-Day 1,  'Manthrikan'  of 'Nizhalkuthu' and 'Krishnan' earned critical acclaim and even Chennithala Chellappan Pillai considered those characters his favorites.Those
roles were his masterpieces which gained him much appreciation.
He was able to perform Kathakali in various centers in India and  abroad.He could travel with
FACT troupe to England,Germany,France and other European Countries.
He received 'Kendra (Central) Sangeetha Nataka Academy Award.
He was also recipient of Kerala Kalamandalam Award and Award from several Kathakali
clubs and Arts Organisations.

Chennithala Chellappan Pillai expired on 31 Oct. 1998

Friday, June 8, 2012


The famous Violinist Chalakudy NS NarayanaSwamy was born at Chalakudy in Kerala to
parents Subramanya Iyer and Lakshmy Ammal on 18 Sept 1925.
The flair for music was intrinsic and  he was given primal training in music by his elder brother
Kailasa Bhagavathar and elder sister Lakshmi Ammal.Afterwards he was given training in 
music by his uncle Akhileswara Bhagavathar.
His first public performance (Arangettam) was held at  Trissur when he was 15 years old.
Narayana Swamy then joined Thiruvananthapuram Swathi Thirunal Music College and got trained in Violin.During this period he got training from veteran  exponent Semmangudi Sreenivasa Iyer etc.
He also got training from PapaVenkitaramaiyah School of Music.
From 1946 to 1956 he was staff artist at All India Radio Thiruvanathapuram.
From 1950 he became very famous and became a preferred accompanist of violin with senior
Carnatic Musicians for their concerts.His accompaniment on violin was always of high caliber 
with minimal use of paraphernalia.He always helped a lot to make the concert reach new heights with the help of his violin accompaniment.
Chalakudy Narayana Swamy became the Principal of Swathi Thirunal Music College,Trivandrum when Semmangudi retired.
He was a member of the board of studies and examiner for music at various Universities such as Banaras Hindu University,Venkiteswara University,Tirupathi University of Mysore,Kerala University etc.
NS Narayana Swamy, Chalakudy received the 'Kalaratnam' award of Travancore Devaswom Board.
He got Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Academy Award in 1977 and Kendra (Central) Sangeeta Nataka Academy Award in 1988.
He got Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Academy fellowship,
Madras Music Academy Award,
Aakasavani Award,
Doctorate from a University in USA,

From  USA 'Vadya Sangeetha Ratnakara' Award,
From Toronto,Canada he received 'Vadya Sangeetha Bhoopathy' award,
'Tantri Vilas award' from Bombay,
'Naada Sudharnava Award' from Madras.

He had traveled all over  USA,European Countries,Canada etc and participated in Carnatic  concerts with his violin  and
also held Violin concerts.
His famous students includes  Balakrishnan,B.Sasi Kumar,Madurai Venkitachalam,Subramanya Sharma,Ramani etc.
Chalakudy NS Narayana Swamy  passed away on 24 Feb 2003.