THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kathakali exponent Madavoor Vasudevan Nair died on Tuesday while performing at a temple at Anchal in Kollam district. He was 87. He collapsed on the stage while performing Kathakali at Agasthyakode Mahadeva temple at Anchal. Though he was taken to a nearby hospital, his life could not be saved.
Nair is survived by wife Savithri Amma, son Madhu, daughters Mini and Ganga Thampi. A recipient of Padma Bhushan, Nair was a disciple of Padma Bhushan Guru Chengannur Raman Pillai. His expertise is in, ‘Kathi,’ ‘Pacha,’ ‘Vellathadi’ and ‘Minukku’ characters.
Born on 7th April 1929 in the district of Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, Vasudevan Nair started learning Kathakali at the age of thirteen. Madavoor Parameswaran Pillai was his first teacher in Kathakali. In 1947, the Maharaja of Travancore appointed Madavoor as a member of Kottaram Kaliyogam and he continued there until 1964. He joined Kerala Kalamandalam in 1968 and worked there till 1977. From 1972, his guru, Chengannur Raman Pillai, was working as the principal of Kalabharathi, the institution started solely for the uplift of Kaplingadu style of Kathakali. Later he became the principal of Kalabharathi, another performing art institute, in Pakalkkuri near Kottarakkara.
Vasudevan Nair concentrated more in anti-hero Kathi roles such as Ravanan, Duryodhanan, Keechakan, Jarasandhan, Banan and Kamsan.
He has performed Kathakali in many places all around India and in countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Fiji, Indonesia, Canada, Australia, Germany, Great Britain and the United States of America. He has received several awards, including the Thulaseevanam Award, Alappuzha Kathakali Club Award, Keraleeya Kalakshetra Award, Guru Chengannur Memorial Award, Kerala Kalamandalam Award, Thapasya Abhinandana Pathram and Sangeetha Nataka Academi Award. He was awarded ‘Padmabhushan’ in 2011.
Last month, Ottanthullal artist Kalamandalam Geethanandan had passed away in a similar manner during a performance at a temple in Thrissur district.