Kerala thespian Kavalam Narayana Panicker leaves behind a rich legacy

Kerala thespian Kavalam Narayana Panicker leaves behind a rich legacy

Popularly known as Kavalam, he was known to have reinvented theatre in Kerala.

Kavalam, Kavalam Narayana Panicker, Kavalam Narayana Panicker dead, theatre director Kavalam Narayana Panicker dead,
Padma Bhushan awardee Kavalam Narayana Panicker was a a multi-faceted personality, being a well-established poet, lyricist and theatre director. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Kerala lost its foremost theatre director, poet Kavalam Narayana Panicker, who passed away at his home in Thiruvananthapuram at the age of 88. He is survived by his wife Saradamani and singer-son Kavalam Sreekumar. He had been unwell for some time due to age related ailments, family sources said.

He is responsible for creating a successful fusion of the classical tradition and folk elements and contemporary theatre. He was popularly known as Kavalam. Kavalam was a multi-faceted personality who carved his niche in divergent fields, being a well-established poet, lyricist and theatre director. Untouched by the western influence in dramas, Kavalam had evolved a unique theatre training system with an Indian perspective.

His plays were known for their Indian narrative mode, usage of ethnic languages and rural flavour. While his dramas ‘Avanavan Kadamba’, ‘Daivathar’ and ‘Sakshi’ are considered milestones in the history of contemporary Malayalam theatre, he also translated Sanskrit plays of classical masters like Kalidasa and Bhasa and brought them onto the stage. ‘Shakunthalalam’, ‘Karnabharam’ and ‘Vikramorvasheeyam’ were among Sanskrit dramas which he adapted and gave life to on the stage.

Hailing from scenic Kavalam in Alappuzha district, the veteran was the founder-director of theatre group ‘Sopanam’. He served as secretary of the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy in the 1960s and was accorded the Padma Bhushan in 2007. He also won a number of honours, including Sangeeth Natak Akademy award, Sangeeth Natak Fellowship and Kerala State Film Award for the best lyricist.

Expressing grief over his unexpected demise, state Cultural Affairs Minister AK Balan said his contributions to contemporary theatre were unique. Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor termed him the person who “reinvented theatre” in Kerala.

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