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P.K.Narayanan Nambiar

Mizhavu Guru P.K. Narayanan Nambiar

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Initiating into the world of [mizhavu]
Virtuoso performer and scholar on the mizhavu

P.K. Narayanan Nambiar's skill and scholarship ensured that the beats of
the mizhavu were heard loud and clear outside the temples.

Mastery over the instrument enabled him to give shape to `mizhavil thayambaka,' which has become popular these days.

The wide appeal of the mizhavu, which is played for Koodiyattom and allied performances, could be attributed to Paanivaadathilakan P.K. Narayanan Nambiar, who was conferred the Kalamandalam Fellowship recently. Nambiar, eldest son of the late Koodiyattom maestro Mani Madhav A. Chakiyar, has been rightly called a kulapathy by his fraternity.

Nambiar himself vouches for this when he says, "As of now, Koodiyattom performances anywhere in the world are accompanied on the mizhavu by my disciples or their disciples."

And his contributions in making the beats of this percussion instrument heard loudly, beyond the dimly-lit koothambalams, have been epochal.

Owing to his family background, he had the rare privilege of being familiar with all the departments of Koodiyattom, at a very young age.

As a student

A strong foundation in Sanskrit and the rigorous disciplining of his father and gurus like Kochampilli Raman Nambiar and Meledath Govindan Nambiar catapaulted him to the centre stage of Koodiyattom performances.

Even during the heydays of the art form, when it enjoyed the patronage of kings and feudal lords, the mizhavu was
played was in a haphazard manner.

Recalls Nambiar, "The Chakiyars, Nambiars and Nangiars met only on the stage and, therefore, there was no coordination among them ,,on how the play could be staged in an orderly manner."

Replies to his queries about the science of the art did not satisfy him. But Nambiar delved into the art form. A few rare granthas at home came to his rescue.

Pattern for teaching

After assiduously working for years, he evolved a scheme for imparting systematic training on the mizhavu that was introduced in Kalamandalam. Kalamandalam never had to scout for an instructor for the mizhavu when a Department of Koodiyattom was opened in 1965. Nambiar served Kalamandalam until his retirement in 1988.

Nambiar belongs to that rare genre of artistes who could combine virtuosity in performance with scholarship.

His literary works like `Mantrankam koothu' based on the third act of Bhasa's `Prathinja Yougandharayana' and `Sreekrishnancharitam Nangiarkoothu,' which entails the nirvahanam of the cheti (companion) of Subhadra in the second act of `Subhadradhananjayam' have been acclaimed as documentations for posterity.

His book on talas in Koodiyattom is perhaps the only authentic work of its kind. Mastery over the instrument enabled him to give shape to `mizhavil thayambaka,' which has become popular these days.


Copyright © 2006  Prem Manasvi.