Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala


Mr. Kavalam Narayana Panikkar

A leading figure in the Indian theatrical tradition Mr. Kavalam Narayan Panicker is a leading figure in the Indian theatrical tradition. A versatile genius he is known as a dramatist, theatre director and poet.

Mr. Narayana Panikkar hails from a village called ‘Kavalam’ in Alappuzha District, Kerala.  Kavalam is a waterlogged area in Kuttanadu which is the granary of the state and also rich in many folk arts. He was born to Godavarma, and Chalayil Kunjuleksmy Amma. With bachelor degrees in arts and law, Mr. Narayana Panikkar before indulging fully into his artistic pursuits, for a brief period practiced law in the District Court of Alappuzha.

Inspired by his renowned uncle, the late Sardar K. M. Panikkar, Mr. Narayana Panikkar started writing poetry from a young age. His poetry is noted for its rural idioms. He has done research in the folk and classical arts of Kerala. He entered theatre in 1964 inspired by folk and classical traditions of Kerala.

Mr. Panikkar has done deep research in the indigenous "music and tala (rhythm)" tradition of Kerala Sopana Sangeetam. Panikkar has established himself as one of Kerala's most respected playwrights with 26 Malayalam plays to his credit, and has also translated English and Sanskrit plays into Malayalam. His works have opened a new way in the world of Malayalam & Sanskrit dramas.

Mr. Panikkar  is the founder Director of ‘Sopanam,’ the theatre wing of Bhasabharati, the centre for Performing Arts, Research and Training. Through 'Sopanam', he has tried to discover the basic principles of theatre through various dance and music forms like Sopana Sangeetam, Mohiniyattam, contemporary recreations of epics etc.

Mr. Panikkar served as the Secretary of the Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Akademi from 1961 to 1971. He was awarded the National Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in Direction in 1983. He also received  its highest award for lifetime achievement the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 2002 and the Padma Bhushan in 2007. He has won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Lyrics twice.


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