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(Kaathhikan T P N Namboodiri)

T P N Namboodiri was perhaps the first and only famous Namboothiri "Kaathhikan" during the period when the art of "Kathhaa-Prasangam" was just becoming popular in Kerala. He was born in Vrischikam of ME 1102 (1926 AD) in Thenganaal Illam of Ramamangalam on the banks of Muvattupuzha, with Parameswaran Namboodiri as father, and Sreedevi Antharjanam of Kallaanikkaatt in Thiruvegapura as mother. At age six, he lost his father. He had his schooling at Nedungottur, Kolenchery and Thrissur. While at Kolenchery, the renowned Prof: M P Manmathan's "Magdalana Mariyam" Kathhaaprasangam during the high school anniversary attracted TPN to this art form and prompted him to stage a few imitation programmes.

Later, during the heydays of Namboothiri Yogakshema Sabha (1947-48), when he was a student in St. Thomas High School at Thrissur, his performance in the Sabha's meetings became almost a regular affair, and was encouraged by the progressive revolutionaries like MRB and VT. His performance at Kerala Kalamandalam in 1949 was greatly applauded by persons like A N Thampi (Director, Education), T K Narayana Pillai (Chief Minister, Travancore-Cochin State), Panampilly Govinda Menon, Mahakavi Vallathol Narayana Menon and others, and was invited to Thiruvananthapuram to perform. He made a radio presentation based on Vallathol's "Raadhayute Krithaarthhatha" there.

"Paanchaaliyute Maranam", "Theethailam", "Aa Mothiram", actor P J Antony's "Odakkuzhal" (this made him a people's Kathhaa-Praasangikan), "Amba" based on Ulloor's drama, "Sarasayya", "Mandodariyute Makal", "Syamanthakam", "Meghamalhaar", etc. are a few of the more than fifty stories he had staged. The poems he used as sub-plots, such as Edasseri's "Poothappaattu" and Sugathakumari's "Sankhu Valakal" had become people's favourites.

TPN constantly endeavoured to bring perfection in his performances. He had Olappamanna write the poems for "Amba". He had introduced the "Velichappaad" (oracle) to the people through "Kandappan" of Olappamanna long before that of P J Antony's "Nirmaalyam". The famous humorist Vaanakkutti wrote the songs for "Sindhu", and dramatist K S Namboodiri for "Meghamalhaar". Musical scores were also tuned by eminent persons; Kalyanasundaram for "Amba", late Sangeetha Vidwan Mavelikkara Ramanathan for Malayattoor's "Ponni", L P R Varma, Kumarakam Bose, and others. He routinely performed in the "Samastha Kerala Sahithya Parishath" meetings.

His talent spread into other art forms like dramatics, and had a drama troupe "Ajithakumar Natana Kalaa Samithi" during 1949-50. His first drama, "Prakhyaapanam" written by the famous Vayalar Rama Varma was staged in Alappuzha, followed by "Chinthakan". Soon, the drama company went bankrupt, and he returned full-time to Kathhaaprasangam.

TPN was a teacher in Ramamangalam High School of Ramamangalam Devaswam, and was quite renowned in that field too. He is still remembered fondly by his students and many continue to follow his Kathaaprasangam style. TPN died on January 23, 1986.

| Article No:32.3 | Last update of this article:5th July 2002 |
Article by : T N Ajithakumar, Thenganaal Illam, Ramamangalam (P.O), Muvattupuzha, Ernakulam Dist.

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