KOCHI: Neelakandan Nair has been practising Kalaripayattu for the last four years. The 10-year-old, who is a master of Meythari and Kolthari, is renowned for his agile performances. Kalaripayattu is now receiving a significantly greater share of the limelight among the netizens, after industrialist Anand Mahindra shared a video of Neelakandan, hailing from Alappuzha, performing Kolthari. The video, where he is seen swaying two lengthy wooden sticks, has received over 5million views on Twitter and it was retweeted by many including actor Vidyut Jamwal, Baba Ramdev and several others praised the youngster’s performance.
WARNING: Do NOT get in this young woman’s way! And Kalaripayattu needs to be given a significantly greater share of the limelight in our sporting priorities. This can—and will— catch the world’s attention. pic.twitter.com/OJmJqxKhdN— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) August 26, 2021
“More than the recognition, I am proud that many got to know about Kalaripayattu through the video,” says Neelakandan, a Class V student at Carmel Academy Higher Secondary School. The youngster was inspired by Mahesh Kumar R, his father who was a soldier, to venture into Kalarippayattu. “My father wanted to learn it when he was young, but couldn’t. He used to tell me all about the physical benefits of the art form, like how it makes you flexible,” says Neelakandan. This took Neelakandan, at the tender age of six, to the world of combat.
Neelakandan is now learning Angathari under the guidance of his guru, Harikrishnan G, the owner of Ekaveera Kalaripayattu Academy and Guinness record holder for cutting 61 pineapples in half in 30 seconds. According to him, however, Neelakandan was an underdog. “He’ll be the last to learn a skill, but the next day, he would surpass the rest. He would practice daily from 4am. It is this commitment that makes him special,” says Harikrishan.
Inspired by his master’s achievements, young Neelakandan performed ‘back walkovers’ and fetched a place in the Arabian Book of World Records for doing back walkovers 422 times in 30 minutes.
Neelakandan is now preparing to perform the same for the Guinness Book of World Records. “Since I am under 12, the record committee has expressed concern regarding my health. So, I will do the maximum number of flips in under 30 seconds,” adds Neelakandan.
More than securing accolades Neelakandan aspire to take Kerala’s traditional art form to greater heights. “The artform should get global attention. Many people in India are still unaware of Kalaripayattu. After the video got out, we got calls from several parts of the country asking about the martial art form,” says Neelakandan. The youngster even got an invitation from platforms like India’s Got Talent. Neelakandan’s sister, Vaishnavi Nair, who is seven years old, is also undergoing training in Kalaripayattu.
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