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Theatre Guru Shri Kavalam Narayanapanikker is no more

kavalam1Kavalam Narayana Panicker (28 April 1928 – 26 June 2016) was an Indian dramatist, theatre director and poet. He has written over 26 Malayalam plays, many adapted from classical Sanskrit drama and Shakespeare, notably Madhyamavyayogam (1979), Kalidasa’s Vikramorvasiyam (1981, 1996), Shakuntalam (1982), Karnabharam (1984, 2001), Bhasa’s Uru Bhangam (1988), Swapnavasavadattam and Dootavakyam (1996).He is the founder – director of theatre troupe, Sopanam, which led to the foundation of Bhashabharati: Centre for Performing Arts, Training and Research, in Trivandrum.

He was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Direction in 1983 by Sangeet Natak Akademi, and its highest award for lifetime achievement, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 2002.In 2007, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan in the field of Arts, by the Government of India. He died in his residence on 26 June 2016, aged 88, a few days after returning from the hospital.

Early life and education

He was born in the village of Kavalam, into an ancient family from Kuttanad in Alappuzha, Kerala, India. His family name is Chalayil and he is a nephew of Sardar Kavalam Madhava Panikkar and a cousin of Dr. K. Ayyappa Panicker, a Malayalam poet. He attended CMS College in Kottayam whose alumni included K. P. S. Menon and his uncle Sardar K. M. Panikkar. He obtained a degree in Economics from S D College, Alappuzha and later a Bachelor of Law degree from Madras Law College.

Career

He started his career as a lawyer in 1955 and practised law for six years before devoting himself to art and literature. In 1961 he was nominated as Secretary of Kerala Sangeetha Nadaka Academy, Thrissur and shifted his base to Thrissur, the cultural capital of Kerala. His work has always been rooted in both the classical and folk traditions of Kerala. In 1974, Kavalam shifted his residence to the state capital Thiruvananthapuram. In this period his play Avanavan Kadamba was filmed by G. Aravindan. He has worked in many countries, including the former Soviet Union. In Greece he worked with Greek artists on a production of the Ilyayana, a fusion of the Indian Ramayana and the Greek epic Iliad.

He has directed two movies about the greatest Kutiyattam maestro legendary actor Guru Mani Madhava Chakyar: Mani Madhava Chakyar: The Master at Work (1994) and Parvati Viraham (1993) in Kuttiyattam form featuring Mani Madhava Chakyar as Ravana. As a lyricist in Malayalam cinema, he has written for films like Ulsavapittennu, Manjadikuru (2008), Vadakakkoru Hridayam (1978) and Marmaram (1982). He won Kerala State Film Award for Best Lyrics for the latter two films.

In 1993 Erin B. Mee directed his play Ottayan in New York City. The Village Voice said: “the haunting pungency of a rich Asian folk-theatrer tradition shines through every stylized gesture.”

Erin B. Mee devotes an entire chapter of her book Theatre of Roots to Panikkar’s work. His work is also the subject of the volume K.N. Panikkar: The Theatre of Rasa edited by Udayan Vajpeyi His play Aramba Chekkan is included in DramaContemporary: India, edited by Erin B. Mee and Erin B. Mee conducted an interview with him for PAJ magazine and his work is the subject of an interview by Erin B. Mee in Seagull Theatre Quarterly: 1995 “The Use of Folk Philosophy in Kavalam Narayana Panikkar’s Poetic Theatre of Transformation.” Seagull Theatre Quarterly 7:58-62.

He has remained a consultant at Asianet Communications and vice-chairman for Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi.

Personal life

He was married and had two sons. He lived in Thiruvananthapuram with his wife Saradamani and also had another house in his native village of Kavalam. He had two sons — Kavalam Harikrishnan and Kavalam Sreekumar. Kavalam Harikrishnan served as BHASABHARATHI’s Chief contact person before he died in October 2009. His younger son Kavalam Sreekumar, is a singer in Kerala. Sreekumar has sung innumerable folk and light music numbers over the past three decades. He has also been singing for Malayalam films over the years.

Awards and recognition

He was awarded Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1983 and Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 2002 and the Padma Bhushan civilian decoration in 2007.
He has won Kerala State Film Award for Best Lyrics twice, in 1978 for Vadakakkoru Hridayam and in 1982 for Marmaram, and the Kalidas Samman by the Government of Madhya Pradesh in (1994–1995).

Other
2013 – TTK Prestige-Vanitha Film Awards – Best Lyricist – Amen
2013 – Asiavision Awards – Best Lyricist

Works

The Right to rule (Kōyma) ; and, The domain of the sun (Sūryasthāna). Seagull Books, 1989. ISBN 81-7046-071-9.
Folklore of Kerala. National Book Trust, India, 1991.
Karimkutty ; and, The lone tusker. Seagull Books, 1991. ISBN 81-7046-092-1.

Death

Kavalam Narayana Panicker suffered from age-related ailments throughout his later life. He was hospitalized many times for their treatment. Still he remained active in the social field. On 13 June 2016, he was hospitalized for a final time. Though he returned after a few days, he died at 9:30 PM on 26 June 2016 in his residence. He is survived by his wife and younger son. He was cremated with full state honours at his home in his native village of Kavalam.

Source : Wikipedia

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