Popular Ottam thullal artist Kalamandalam Geethanandan passed away during a performance at Avittathur, near Irinjalakuda, on Sunday evening. He was 58.
He collapsed on the stage during the performance. Though he was given first aid and was rushed to a nearby private hospital, his life could not be saved.
Geethanandan, who started performing on stage from the age of nine, joined Kalamandalam for formal learning in 1974. After completing the studies at Kalamandalam, he joined the institution as a thullal teacher in 1983 and later became the head of the department.
He is credited with introducing ‘thullal pada kacheri’, akin to the kathakali pada kacheri, for highlighting the genius of ottam thullal founder Kunchan Nambiar.He is also the first artist to perform thullal at Paris in 1984.
Geethanandan performed on more than 5,000 stages across the country. He had been conferred with various awards, including Veera Sringala and Thullal Kalanidhi..
Geethanandan has acted in more than 30 Malayalam movies. Mohanlal-starrer Kamaladalam was his first film followed by Thoovalkkottaram, Manassinakkare, Irattakuttikalude Achan, Narendran Makan Jayakanthan Vaka, Mr Romeo and Kanchi.
He is survived by his wife, Shobana, and children, Sanal Kumar and Sreelakshi, both thullal artistes.