Friday, 11 November 2011

Kothuku Nanappan, the pioneer of Mimicry in Kerala, introduced this art in its professional form on stage in the name “The Three Mosquitoes” (Moonu Kothukukal – in Malayalam), in Kerala during the early seventies. The title, “The Three Mosquitoes” was borrowed from the then famous Hollywood movie, “The Three Musketeers”.

He was born to Smt. Saraswathy Antharjanam and Shri G. Shankaran Potti of Muttathu Madom, Peruunai, Changanasseri, Kerala on March 12th 1935. His official name was S. Narayanan Namboothiri and pet-name was Nanappan.

Nanappan was an expert in imitating sounds and actions from a very young age of four years and often used to get beatings from his mother and elders, which in his version were his initial remunerations, for the many number of mischief, he used to make with his born talent of mimicking.

But the conservative family and social setup prevailing during that period failed to recognize or encourage this talent powerhouse.

After completing Diploma in Textile Technology from Govt. Polytechnic, Thiruvananthapuram, he left Kerala in 1955 in search of a livelihood and struggled a lot for 5 years till he settled down in 1961in Textile Commissioner’s Office, Mumbai as a Textile Investigator.

He got married to Smt. Suseela Devi from Kizhakkedathu House, Varanad, Cherthala in 1962. A son was born to them in 1963, but passed away on the 20th day due to Brain fever. This was a great blow to these two and had no offspring for the next 6 years.

During 1968, a family tour was organized by the office staff to Bhandardhara Water Falls, where during the campfire, sparks of his talent were experienced by his colleagues. Next day, they unanimously persuaded Nanappan to arrange these items and perform as a show on their oncoming Office Club Anniversary.

Thus, on March 30th 1968, Nanappan along with Shri. Aniyan performed a 20 min. show, the beginning of a successful journey of a great explorer in the world of Mimicry. His first professional stage performance was on Sep 8th, 1968 in connection with the 114th birthday celebration of Sri Narayanaguru, organized by the Mumbai Sri Narayanaguru Temple Association.

At that time, there were some popular mimicry artistes in Mumbai, but their show lasted for less than an hour. “The Three Mosquitoes” soon gained popularity among all language speaking classes due to its cosmopolitan nature and satirical introduction of social and political issues.

In 1973, the Upasana Oriental Theatre Centre of Thiruvananthapuram organized 13 programs of “The Three Mosquitoes” in various cities / towns of Kerala. Thus, on June 17th 1973, Nanappan performed the “The Three Mosquitoes” in front of Sri Guruvayoorappan Temple as his offering and then on June 24th 1973 at V.J.T. Hall, Thiruvananthapuram – the beginning of Mimicry in Kerala.

Nanappan went back to Mumbai after performing after three weeks completing his first series of performance throughout Kerala, leaving the audience and media wonder-struck. Thus, he sowed the seeds for the emergence of scores of mimicry artistes / troupes in Kerala and inclusion as an event in the school / college youth festivals.

Nanappan left Mumbai and settled down in Thiruvananthapuram in 1981 and continued to work in Malayalam films and TV serials, where he gained considerable recognition.

He passed away on Dec 26th 1994 with a grief that, except for some rare personalities this great art of imitation, comedy and satire which Nanappan considered as God’s gift and nourished it to an intellectual level, is being reduced to vulgarity and double-entendre. 


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