Kavalam Narayana Panikkar

Born in 1928 in Kavalam village in Kerala, Shri Kavalam Narayana Panikkar is a distinguished figure in contemporary Indian theatre. He studied law at the University of Madras and briefly practised as a lawyer. Soon, however, he was attracted to the study of the performing arts of Kerala which led him to the theatre in the early 1960s. Shri Panikkar has given a new direction to the contemporary theatre in Kerala by his work as a director, actor, teacher, and composer. He has drawn upon Kerala’s unique repository of forms of music, dance, and theatre to evolve a distinctive theatre idiom. Noteworthy among his productions are plays in Sanskrit, particularly works of Bhasa including Dootavakyam, Urubhangam, Bhagavadajjukiyam and Madhyama Vyayogam, and Kalidasa’s Shakuntalam and Vikramorvasiyam. He has written and directed about twenty plays in Malayalam including Karimkutty, Theyya Theyyam, and Kalivesham. Shri Panikkar has also translated several plays from other languages into Malayalam, and has written plays for children. He has written songs for thirty-six feature films in Malayalam and scripts for several documentary films. He is also acknowledged as a poet in Malayalam. Shri Panikkar is founderdirector of the Sopanam repertory company of Trivandrum. Some of the wellknown productions of the company have been staged in events including the International Theatre Festivals at Toga- Mura, Japan, in 1982, at Delphi, Greece, in 1985; and in South Korea in 1997. Sopanam was also invited to the Festival of India in the U.S.S.R. in 1987. Shri Panikkar has received various honours for his work over the years including the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for playwriting in 1974, the Kerala State Film Award in 1978 and 1982, and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for theatre direction in 1985. He received the Kalidas Samman in 1995. For his contribution to Indian theatre, Shri Kavalam Narayana Panikkar is elected Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi.