Indian Classical

Classical Dance Performer and Brother of Kalabhavan Mani Attempts Suicide Blaming Caste Discrimination

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Mohiniyattam performer and younger brother of late south Indian actor Kalabhavan Mani, RLV Ramakrishnan attempted to die by suicide on Saturday after facing caste discrimination.

He was found unconscious at Kalagramam, a memorial of Mani in Thrissur, after overdosing on sleeping pills. Ramakrishnan was rushed to the nearby Taluk hospital where he was given immediate medical intervention and taken to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on Saturday. His condition is said to be stable currently.

Ramakrishnan had raised some serious accusations against the authorities of Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi, headed by veteran actor KPAC Lalitha. They allegedly denied him permission to take part in a virtual performance. A handwritten note by Ramakrishnan that was recovered later described the incident, and the classical dancer blamed the chairperson and secretary of the Akademi for his suicide attempt.

In the note, he also wished for a space of art ‘devoid of caste discrimination’ and said he was done facing ‘the torture’. A PhD holder in Mohiniyattam classical dance, Ramakrishnan is one of the few male artists in the dance form, which is popularly considered a female bastion. He secured a doctorate after 15 long years of research in the field.

It was alleged the Akademi chairperson Lalitha’s plea to include Ramakrishnan in the virtual fete was denied by secretary N Radhakrishnan Nair.

After his suicide attempt made news, the Akademi in a press release denied the conversation between Lalitha and Nair to include him in the virtual programme. However, the victim’s family released an audio recording of a telephonic conversation between Ramakrishnan and Lalitha as proof of the incident. In the clipping, Lalitha is heard saying she has talked to the secretary and Ramakrishnan was told to apply for participation.

However, the family is taking legal recourse to end caste nepotism in the art space, which had adversely affected Mani, a self-made artiste who rose from mimicry performances to become a known face in southern film industry.

Kalabhavan Renjith, nephew of Ramakrishnan, told News 18 the family was planning legal recourse. “Our family had gone through the worst of caste system over the years. I lost Mani uncle. Can’t lose one more. We will take the legal route,” he said.

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