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A film on a living legend

Adoor Gopalakrishnan will capture Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair's performance for coming generations.



Kalmandalam Ramankutty Nair

NOTED FILMMAKER Adoor Gopalakrishnan is making a documentary on Kathakali maestro Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair. To be produced by the Kendra Sangeetha Natak Akademi, the one-hour long documentary will capture the enactment of classical Kathakali from the greatest performer of the art.

Ramankutty Nairis regarded as the main exponent of `Kalluvazhy Chitta,' the basic acting style of Kathakali. This style was invented and developed by Pattikkamthodi Ravunni Menon, the guru of Ramankutty Nair.

Hailing from Vellinezhi, a remote village in Palakkad district, Ramankutty Nair started training in Kathakali at a very young age.

The peculiarity of Ramankutty Nair's performance style is total perfection and beauty of acting. His `attams and mudras' are a rare mix of quality and quantity. Ramankutty Nair is famous for his `kathi' and `vellathadi veshams' in Kathakali; at times he also does `minukku' and `pacha' veshams also. His guru is reported to have remarked that `hasya' (humour) was the `sthayi bhava' of Ramankutty. Later, he proved that all the nine bhavas could be his sthayi.

The beauty of his exposition is the result of the rigorous training he received from his guru, and his sustained effort to refine it by adhering to the `chitta.' The total body movement, mudras and expressions flow from him in accordance with the `bhava, raga and thala' in Kathakali. The mastero has acquired an abundance of knowledge and experience in his life dedicated to stage and `Kalari.' He groomed many present day stars of the performing art such as Kalamandalam Gopi, Kalamandalam Balasubramanian and so on. But, Ramankutty Nair is sad that all the young artistes find all these useless. "Nobody comes to me for any clarification, everybody is so sure that they don't have any doubts and doesn't want to improve."

Ramankutty Nair is obviously happy that a world-renowned filmmaker like Adoor is making a documentary on him. "This documentary may prove to be a good reference to the coming generations. Whenever I see my performances in the visual media, I feel perfection is yet to be achieved," he said.

Ramankutty Nair was in Thiruvananthapuram last week to perform a Kathakali conducted by Drisyavedi. There he portrayed the lead role of `Ravana' in `Ravana Vijayam.' His age or physical weakness never reflected in his acting. It is quite admirable that at the age of 80 Ramankutty Nair never looked weak because of the intense training that he got in his youth and the commitment to Kathakali on stage.

Mudra, a cultural organisation based at Palakkad, is organising a five-day festival on his 80th birthday in first week of May. This event is aimed at felicitating and honouring him in the presence of his disciples and admirers.

The five-day festival includes seminars, cultural summits, workshop on cultural journalism and a photo exhibition as offstage items, Kathakali, Carnatic music, ashtapadi, Nangyarkooth, Bharatha Natyam and so on as stage items. These types of celebrations and felicitations will boost the confidence and creativity of young artistes too.

VINU VASUDEVAN

Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar

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