Early Life and Training of Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri
Born in 1950 to Late Sri Ammankotu Manakkal Madhavan Namboodiri, a farmer and Devaki Antharjanam as their youngest of three sons, at Shoranur in the Palakkad district of Kerala, Sivan Namboodiri had his early schooling at Kanayam and Vatanamkurissi. Being a poor student, he had to drop out of school in the seventh grade. He joined Kerala Kalamandalam in 1965, at the age of 14, to learn Kathakali, finding himself attracted to the classical dance drama.
During that period, the eminent Koodiyattam thespian Late Painkulam Rama Chakyar, was in the process of setting up the Koodiyattam department at Kalamandalam and, on the insistence of Vallathol Narayana Menon, the founder of the institute, and K. N. Pisharody, Sivan changed his course to study Koodiyattam, as one of the two students of its first batch for a six-year diploma course. Sivan was fortunate to learn the art from the great connoisseurs of the time, Painkulam Rama Chakyar, Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair (Kathakali thespian) and Kalamandalam Krishnankutty Poduval (Chenda exponent). They had discovered a promising artist of Koodiyattam reflecting in Sivan Namboodiri’s relentless passion, determination and devotion towards the art. After the initial study of 6 years, Sivan enrolled for the post graduate course in Koodiyattam of 2 years, at Kalamandalam. This was followed by an advanced course in New Delhi, under a scholarship from the Department of Culture, Government of India. It took him 10 long years of intense training and perseverance, to become a well-acknowledged, master practitioner of the art form.
Theatre Career and Performance Highlights of Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri
Sivan Namboodiri, in addition to being the first artist from outside the Chakyar community to perform Koodiyattam, is also considered as the first person to learn Koodiyattam in an institutional way; till his venturing into Koodiyattam, the art form was taught only under the Gurukula system. The highlight of Sivan Namboodiri's career came in Paris, where he performed two acts, ‘Kailasodharanam’ (telling the tale of Ravana lifting Mount Kailasa) and ‘Parvathiviraham’ (Goddess Parvathi's separation from Lord Shiva), before a UNESCO jury selecting art forms to be considered for inclusion in UNESCO's "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity". The jury approved the inclusion of Koodiyattam, subsequent to the show. Sivan Namboodiri also performed in Germany, at the Cologne Festival in 1980.
Another first which is attributed to Sivan Namboodiri is that he was the first male to perform Nangiarkoothu, the 2000-year old art form, till then dominated by the Nangiars or the women folk of the Nambiar community in Kerala. In addition to being the first male performer ever, he is also recognised for introducing certain innovations regarding the use of costumes and musical instruments in this age-old art form.
Other Ventures of Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri
In the year 1975, Sivan Namboodiri joined the Kerala Kalamandalam in the Faculty of Koodiyattam, as an instructor. Today, he is the most accomplished and experienced teacher and performer in the Department of Koodiyattam at the Kalamandalam. He is also working as a visiting professor at the School of Drama in the University of Calicut, since 1980.
Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri’s almost hour-long performance of Kailasodharanam Kutiyattam was brought out by Invis Multimedia as ‘Kutiyattam Kailasodharanam’ in DVD format in 2005.
Personal Life of Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri
Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri is married to Indira, who is a Sanskrit teacher at a local school and the couple has two children. The family stays in Thrissur.
Awards and Recognitions received by Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri
Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri has been honoured with the following accolades:
Forms of Indian Theatre
Folk Theatre of Kerala
Classical Indian Dance Drama
Indian Classical Dance
Koodiyattam, Folk Theatre of Kerala
Guru Mani Madhava Chakyar
Guru Ammannur Madhava Chakyar