Kalasala Babu – Character artist of Malayalam cinema best known for negative shades

Kalasala Babu (1950-2018) was a veteran Malayalam actor associated with theater, films and television. He was the son of Kathakali maestro Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair and Mohiniyattam exponent Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma, best known for promoting and renovating their respective art forms in the post-independent era.  His niece Sreedevi Rajan and grandnieces Sandhya Rajan and Smita Rajan are Mohiniyattam artists, known for renovating this art form through new techniques. As a film actor he excelled in negative shades, and some of his popular characters are Lion, Kastooriman, Thuruppu Gulan etc.

Kalasala Babu made his entry to Malayalam films through a B-grade film Inaye Thedi starring Silk Smita in 1977. The movie was a flop. Though he stayed in Mollywood for long time, his memorable roles came only after year 2000. He was mostly associated with theatre long before he started gaining recognition from Malayalam cinema as a character artist. His facial expressions and body language earned him fame as an antagonist. He completed nearly 4 decades in the field of acting, and was fully active till his death in 2018.

Though born as the son of performing couple related to dance forms, he never faced objection from parents to choose acting. Since college days he did radio plays and in amateur theatric, he gained recognition for the first time through Paanchajanyam. As a film actor he got major break through 2006 film, Lion, where he played the memorable character role of Balagangadhara Menon, the education minister. His cunning and crooked contractor Lonappan in Kasthoorimaan and Sridharan Unnithaan in Thuruppu Gulan are other noted roles. Ramayanam, Kadamattath Kathanar, Amma etc are some of his famous small screen roles.

Kalasala Babu – Some interesting and less-known facts

1. His debut film as a lead actor Inayethedi was the first attempt of a few artists including Kaloor Dennis and Antony Eastman. The film was shot in black & white, which was later cited as one of the major reasons for the commercial failure for the film. By that time colour films were quite popular.

2. He worked in Kalidasa Kala Kendram for two years before he joined films, and got opportunity to work under O. Madhavan and K. T. Muhammed.

3. During his early days in theatre he was associated with ‘Kalasala’ theatre group in Thripunithura, and that’s how the tag got added to his name. Thilakan, P. J. Antony and N. N. Pillai were some of the renowned artists associated with this group which was wind up in 1980 due to lack of good scripts. He even tried rubber business and some other fields. In 1999 he made a fresh beginning through TV series, `Kala’ where he played Rowdy Dasappan.


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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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