Early Life of Vazhenkata Kunchu Nair
He was born in Vazhenkata, near Cherpalcheri, Palakkad district in 1908. He was named Krishnan but became known by his nickname Kunchu. He went to school at Vellinezhi village, near the Vellinezhi Kalari, a Kathakali school where the famous guru of the Kalluvazhi (midland) style, Pattikkantodi Ramunni Menon, used to give lessons. By watching these classes he grew interested in the art and started training under Kariyattil Koppan Nair in 1924.
Dance Career of Vazhenkata Kunchu Nair
After his debut in 1925, he specialized for two years under Kalluvazhi Govinda Pisharoti and, for five years, learnt from Ramunni Menon. He combined the stylish facial expressions of Kunchu Kurup of the Kaplingatu (southern) school with Ramunni Menon's rigorous body movements and hand gestures typical to the midland tradition.
Though Nair studied under eminent gurus, he had his own style. His attractive face and rhythmic steps appealed to audiences, but he also virtually metamorphosed into the characters he enacted. He made it a point to read every book he could find in Malayalam, English, Hindi, and Sanskrit on the characters he played, to perfect his bhava and rasa. He became famous especially for the roles of Nala and Bahuka in Nalacharitam or 'Nala's Life', Ravana in Balivijayam or 'Victory over Bali' Yudhishthira, Siddhartha, Bhima in Kalyana saugandlrika (Auspicious Fragrant Flower), Arjuna, Parasurama, the Brahman of Santana-Gopalam or 'Gopala, Saviour of Children', Raja Rukmangada in Rukmangada-charitam or 'Rukmangada's Life', and Kripacharya. He had many new scripts to his credit, like Chitrangada, Buddhacharitam or Buddha's Life', and Sakuntala.
Teaching Career of Vazhenkata Kunchu Nair
He served as principal of Kerala Kalamandalam, Cheruthuruthi as well as the main teacher of P.S.V. Natyasangham, Kottakkal, for many years. He was the first principal of Kerala Kalamandalam which is the premier performing arts institute of Kerala.
Vazhenkata Kunchu Nair died in the year 1981 after prolonged illness.
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