|Oyur Kochu Govinda Pillai|
Initiated into Kathakali at the young age of nine, Oyur Kochu Govinda Pillai went on to become an accomplished Kathakali actor, also with a reputation of presenting the character of Hamsam (the Swan).
Kochu Govinda Pillai started learning Kathakali under the watchful eyes of his uncle Chathanur Velu Pillai. Following intensive training in Kathakali, spanning six years, and after his debut Kathakali performance, Kochu Govinda Pilla joined as an actor in the Kathakali troupe run by his teacher.
Kochu Govinda Pillai during the initial days as a Kathakali performer also devoted his time to learn Sanskrit and gain further insight on Attakatha (plays taken for performance) through his association with Pallikkal Kesava Pillai. Masters like Kurichi Kunjan Panicker, Chennithala Kochu Pillai Panicker also enabled Kochu Govinda Pillai to learn some special types of Attakramams (order of dance presentation) and the standard procedures involved in it.
During his prime days as an actor Kochu Govinda Pillai made an indelible mark in presenting characters like Hamsam (the Swan) in the story ? Nalacharitham and also characters of pious and godly nature like Brahmin and Lord Krishna in the Kathakali play titled Rukmini Swayamvaram.
He is an exponent in performing characters in the category called Pacha (Pacha characters in Kathakali parlance refers to noble characters). Some of his noted Pacha characters include Lord
Krishna in the play Duryodhanavadham; Arjuna in Santhanagopalam; Akruran in Kamsavadham and Kachan in Devayanicharitham.
Oyur Kochu Govinda Pillai also etched an everlasting impression among his audience and connoisseurs of Kathakali by proving as the best among his contemporaries in adorning the character of Hamsam (the bird character serving as messenger between lovers). He used to give consistent performance in the role of Hamsam and enthrall the audience with a finesse and style that only he can produce. He is widely reckoned, perhaps, after the late maestro Kurichi Kunjan Panicker, as the artiste who had performed the role of Hamsam the maximum number of times.
As an artiste and a master performer, the Kathakali scenario in Kerala has benefited a lot from Oyur Kochu Govinda Pillai. He has taught in many of Kerala?s training centers for Kathakali and has to his credit many disciples who later became well known names in Kathakali. Besides sharing his expertise in Kathakali at home, Kochu Govinda Pillai also got an opportunity in 1966 to visit Singapore and train students there for six months. He also toured some of the European countries like the U.K., Holland and Germany to perform Kathakali, while he was a member of the Kathakali troupe of the FACT in 1970.
In recognition of his acting prowess and as an outstanding personality in the world of Kathakali, Oyur Kochu Govinda Pillai has been honored on several occasions, and some of the noted ones include the Kerala Kalamandalam Award and the Sangeetha Nataka Academy Award.
This octogenarian still exudes the spirit to be actively involved in the cause of Kathakali and is a source of inspiration with immense experience and a profound understanding with regard to the classical art form of Kathakali.