Veteran Kathakali maestro Guru Chemancheri Kunhiraman Nair passed away at the age of 105 at his residence in Cheliya near Koyilandy in Kozhikode early on Monday. He was leading a retired life after more than eight decades of an artistic career.
His last notable performance was at the age of 100. He portrayed Lord Parasuraman in the recital he gave at Kozhikode town hall. Lord Krishna was the most admired role of Guru Chemancheri. He enthralled art lovers with his mudras and expressions.
An extraordinary genius in Kathakali he devoted himself to the classical art. He was so passionate about the art that he left his home at the age of 14 and joined the Kathakali troupe run by Guru Karunakaran Menon. He was credited with the revival of Kathakali in North Malabar. He followed Kalladikodan Chitta, the northern style of Kathakali.
He founded Bharatiya Natyakalalayam, the first school of dance in north Kerala, in 1945. Later he also established Cheliya Kathakali Vidyalayam.
He received several awards and recognitions including that of the Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Akademi, Kerala Kalamandalam, Kalaratnam, and Mayilpeeli. He was awarded Padma Shri in 2017 in recognition of his contributions to Kathakali.