Kathakali maestro Chemancheri Kunhiraman Nair passed away at his house in Cheliya near Koyilandy in Kerala’s Kozhikode district in the early hours of Monday. He was 105. He left the stage after eight decades of his artistic career. Active on stage till the age of 90, his Krishna and Kuchela characters were the favourite of Kathakali connoisseurs. Guru’s Parashurama enactment at Kozhikode Town Hall at the age of 100 was the last notable public appearance on stage.
Guru Chemancheri was an extraordinary genius in Kathakali and Kerala Nadanam. He was one of the main propagandists of the northern style of Kathakali known as Kalladikodan Chitta. He was born on June 16, in 1916 to Chathukutty Nair of Madayangandi and Kunjammakutty Amma of Kinattinkara. In 1977 he co-founded Pookad College with Malabar Sukumaran Bhagavathar and in 1983 Cheliya Kathakali Vidyalaya. He had served as an executive member of Sangeetha Nataka Academy, examiner of Kalamandalam Dance Section, audition committee member of Doordarshan and executive member of Vishwa Kala Kendram. The Government of India awarded him the fourth highest civilian honour, Padma Shri in 2017. He received Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Academy award in 1979, Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Academy Fellowship in 1999, Kerala Kalamandalam granted an award for special contributions to art in 2001, Darpanam Natyakulapathi award in 2002.