Kudamaloor Karunakaran Nair was the mohini of Kathakali. This was a role he played for over fifty years. He was born near the Kudamaloor Vasudevapuram temple in Kottayam district in 1916. He was trained under eminent gurus like Kurichi Rama Panicker and Kurichi Kochappi Panicker known as the `Kochappi-Ramas` and their nephew Kurichi Kunjan Panicker. He specialized in female impersonation and, at an early age, accompanied Thottam Sankaran Namboodiri during 1881-1943 on his foreign tour. Later he became a disciple of Kavalappara Narayanan Nair and graduated in the northern Kathakali style, joining the main troupe of the Travancore palace in 1939. He cultivated a bewitching smile and feminine expressions as the secrets of his success. Kudamaloor excelled as the aristocratic Damayanti, Rukmini, Draupadi, and Devayani, enchantresses like Mohini and Lalita, caste types like Kattalatti or forest-dweller`s wife, Vannatti or washerwoman, and Malayatti or hill woman, and in the sringara or erotic and karuna or sad aspects of women. He set up a Kathakali school adjacent to his home. In 1968 he became the main instructor at the famous Kathakali Vidyalayam of Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore in Aluva, near Kochi, Ernakulam district. Presently, he is chief teacher of Kudamaloor Kala Kendram, established in his honour in 1978. As a person, he is known for his sense of humour and simplicity.
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