Thursday, June 14, 2012

SANKARAN EMBRANTHIRI

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
Auditorium.
Sankaran Embranthiri passed away on 14 Nov 2007.

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