S.Rajam’s (Music Appreciation notes)

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Sadanam Balakrishnan

Birthdays & Anniversaries

My first interaction with Kathakali exponent Guru Sadanam P.V. Balakrishnan was during the middle of the 1980s. I was the Secretary of the Kathakali club in Kannur, now defunct like several other Kathakali clubs of those times.  The Club annually presented at least one performance of Sadanam Balakrishnan. He was then the chief of the International Centre for Kathakali in Delhi, so we invited him to Kerala during the summer vacation months. His performances attracted a good crowd of Kathakali enthusiasts from far and near. He was not a ‘star’ yet, but Kathakali aficionados loved him.

His performances, like those of his mentor Keezhpadam Kumaran Nair, were extremely neat. He imparted dignity to both the character and the play, even if the character he was playing was ‘rajasic’ or wicked. He respected his co-actors and accompanying musicians, and gave them their space. His portrayals were a real feast for head and heart alike. His performances were for learned audiences.

Last year, sitting in the campus of Kalakshetra in Chennai, I asked Sadanam Balakrishnan a question my mother often asked me some 25 years ago: “Why did he move to Delhi? Would he not miss his space in Kerala and the art a talented actor?”

Sadanam replied: “Indeed, I missed Kerala and the performance space at a crucial stage of my career. Once I did express to my asan my intention of going back to Kerala. He gave me good counsel saying that the Kathakali scenario of Kerala was not so good at that time for a person of my nature. I listened to his advice as my guru’s blessings are always my strength.”

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