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Famous Kathkali Artists  
 
Kalamandalam gopi
  Kalamandalam gopi

Born in 1937 in the village of Kothachira, Kerala, Kalamandalam Gopi (Vadakka Manalath govindan) was initiated in kathakali by Guru T.Ravunni Nair. He later trained at Kerala Kalamandalam with Gurus Ramankutty nair, Padmanabhan nair, Kumaran nair and others.

Over a thirty year career Kalamandalam Gopi has established himself as an outstanding Kathakali actor. He has played all major Kathakali roles, excelling as Bhima, Arjuna and Nala. The most notable representative of the Kalluvazhi School today, he has enriched the northern Kathakali style in many respects. He was on the teaching faculty of Kerala Kalamandalam from 1958 upto his retirement. For his eminence in dance and his
 
contribution to its enrichment Kalamandalam Gopi received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1987.  
   
   
Kottakkal Sivaraman
  Kottakkal Sivaraman

Kottakkal Sivaraman, one the most celebrated Kathakali actors who portrays female characters in Kathakali, enacted the role of Pingala in a new attakatha that is also titled `Pingala.'

Organised under the aegis of Thrissur Kathakali Club, the 80-minute story that has great scope for ekaharya abhinaya, was choreographed by Sivaraman himself. This was the second time the play was staged. It premiered at Karalmanna (Palakkad), Sivaraman's native place, last December.

Sivaraman's characterisation was flawless. He captured the various
 
emotions of Pingala as she travels from the depths of disappointments to the heights of spiritual bliss. He demonstrated the emotions of a variety of nayika bhavas, like vasakasajjika and lasya nayika.  
   
   
Kalamandalam Kesavan Namboodiri
  Kalamandalam Kesavan Namboodiri

Kalamandalam Kesavan Namboodiri was born on Jan 1, 1955 in Kolpuram Illam, Kuruvattoor, and Kozhikode Taluk. He learned Kathakali from 1972 to 1983 in Kerala Kalamandalam and was awarded Central Govt. Scholarship and continued his higher studies in Kerala Kalamandalam from 1983 to 1985. He practised Kathakali under many famous teachers namely Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair, Kalamandalam Padmanabhan Nair, Kalamandalam Gopi, Vazhenkata Vijayan, Kalamandalam Vasu Pisharodi and Kalamandalam M.P.S. Namboodiri.

He has also practised the "Thekkan Kathakali" (South Kerala style) from Mankombu Sivasankara Pillai and Kalamandalam Rajasekharan. He has
 
performed Kathakali in many stages all around India and in foreign countries. His expertise is in "Minukku" characters, but now doing "Pacha", "Kathi", "Thadi" characters also. He has also directed the Kathakali "Sreekrishnaavatharam" which is written by Nalloorpalli Vamanan Namboodiri and performed in many stages. Now he is working on "Kirathasoonucharitham" Kathakali, which is written by Kottarathil Sankunni.  
   
   
Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair
  Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair

Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair is one of the senior performers of the Kathakali form of dance. This dance personality is known for his poise and precise body movements and it is with the help of such distinguished body movements that the dance has made an acclaimed position in the field of Kathakali Dance. Ramankutty Nair is mostly popular for his anti-hero performance. He has famous performances as Ravana, Duryodhana, Keechaka and Narakasura. He had shown equal expertise in the role of Lord Hanuman and during the early days of his career he had performed as sage Parasuram where he had used semi-realistic make up and costumes. His performance as sage Parasurama had gained him a lot of fame and popularity as a Kathakali dancer.
 

The medium built and the average facial features which he had did not make him very suitable as a romantic hero but many times he had performed as a protagonist of the play. He had performed the roles of Bhima, Arjuna and Yudhisthir which were choreographically complex in nature but the great master had delivered all his roles with absolute excellence. Some of the other well known characters which were performed by Ramankutty Nair include the role of black-bearded Kaattaalan in Nalacharitam and his Brahmana in Santanagopalam.
 
   
   
Kalamandalam Vasu Pisharody
  Kalamandalam Vasu Pisharody

Kalamandalam Vasu Pisharody is a popular name in the realm of Kathakali Dance. He is a well known disciple of Padma Shri Vazhenkada Kunchu Nair. This particular Kathakali dancer is known for his anti-hero performances and his roles as semi-realistic minukku. He has also excelled as a virtuous pachacha. Some of his masterpiece performance has been the roles of Nalan, Bahukan, Arjuna, Bhima, Yudhisthir, Rukmangadan and Brahmanan.

Vashu Pisharody was born on August 15th in 1943 at the Pallakad District. Soon after schooling he was enrolled under the guidance of Balakrishnan Nair at Kerala Kalalayam. After some time Pisharody had joined PSV
 
Natyasangham for further training and had remained a trainee there for a period of three years. Finally he joined Kerala Kalamandalam where he carried on his further studies for a period of six years. Pisharody in the course of his career had remained the student of Ramankutty Nair and Kalamandalam Padmanabhan Nair.

This famous dancer had graced several stages of Kerala and others with his marvelous performance. He was also honoured with Central Sangeet Natak Academy Award. Pisharody was also popular trainer of Kathakali dance and his well known disciples had been Kalamandalam Sreekumar and Kalamandalam Pradeep.

In the year 2005 ill health prompted Pisharody to take a break from his passion as well as profession but in the year 2009 in and around the month of March Pisharody once again made a graceful come back to the stage. After the period of break his first performance was at the Thirumandhamkunnu temple in his village of Kongad.
 
   
   
Kavungal Chathunni Panicker
  Kavungal Chathunni Panicker

Kavungal Chathunni Panicker is an actor belonging to the illustrious Kavungal family of six generations of Kathakali artistes. He was born in Thichur village near Vadakkancheri, Thrissur district in 1922. His granduncles Kunhi Krishna Panicker, Chathunni Panicker, and Sankara Panicker were famous performers and teachers. He was named Chathunni because he was born a few months after the death of the senior Chathunni Panicker. His first Kathakali guru was Sankara Panicker during 1873-1936. For higher studies, he became the disciple of Katambur Gopalan Nair.

He appeared on stage at 14 and formed his own troupe at 20. His favourite roles were the heroic Krishna in Diiryodhana-vadham or `Slaying of
 
Duryodhana`, Daksha, Arjuna, Pushkara, Bhima, and the demon Narakasura. With his special sense of rhythm he innovated a variety of kalasams i.e. decorative movements. In 1947 he joined Darpana Academy, Ahmedabad, as Kathakali instructor, and from 1948 toured as a leader with Mrinalini Sarabhai`s company for a long time. He was always experimenting her on contemporary roles and choreography.  
   
Kalamandalam Krishna Prasad
  Kalamandalam Krishna Prasad

Kalamandalam Krishna Prasad was born on January 21, 1963 to K P Madhavan Nair and Rugminiamma. He started his initial training in Kathakali under Evur Sankara Pillai and Evur Krishnan Nair. His first stage performance was at Evur Sreekrishnaswamy temple as Krishnan in Gurudakshina.

After completing SSLC, he joined Kerala Kalamandalam and finished his six years training and two years post graduation in Kathakali. He took Kathakali training under MPS Nambuthiri, Kalamandalam Vijayan, Kalamandalam Gopi, and Vasu Pisharody. He is very active in the Kathakali field and is an expert in doing male and female characters.
 

He received M A Vellody Medal for best student from Kalamandalam, Vazhenkada Kunjunair award for best Cholliyattam, Pallippuram Gopalan Nair Award from Cherthala Kathakali Club, Kummini Vasudevan Nambuthiri Award, and Guru Chengannur Raman Pillai Smaraka Kalavedi Award. He visited France along with Kerala Kalamandalam Kathakali troupe. Chettikulangara Unnikrishnan, Madhu Varanasi and Abhijith Radhakrishnan (MD Student) learnt Kathakali from him.

Now Krishna Prasad is working as a Kathakali coordinator in people's channel of Kairali TV. He has his own Kathakali yogam and can arrange Kathakali programs in any part of India.
 
   
 
 
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