Laasyam, The World of Sunanda Nair, the documentary film on renowned Mohiniyattam performer, Dr. Sunanda Nair, directed by Vinod Mankara has been selected to the International Film Festival of India – Indian Panorama 2018 in Goa and also IFFI Kolkata 2018. Laasyam was one of the 21 films in India chosen from different languages in Indian Panorama. The film was also displayed in the Indian Panorama section.
In Laasyam, Kalasree Dr. Sunanda Nair is seen learning from various artists such as Padmashsree Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri, who is a Koodiyaattam exponent, Padmashree Kalamandalam Gopi, the Kathakali exponent; percussionist (Thayambaka) Mattannur Sankarankutty and Mohiniyattam exponent Padmabhushan Dr. Kanak Rele.
The documentary is produced by Sulochana Balakrishnan under the banner Sparc Presentation. The research, narration, text and direction are by Vinod Mankara, whose Sanskrit movie, Priyamanasam had won the national award, in addition to critical acclaim won by his yet another Malayalam musical thriller, Kamboji, produced by Prof Lakshmi Padmanabhan under Padmalakshmi Productions, which bagged five State awards from Kerala. The movie narrates the life and career of Dr. Sunanda Nair, brilliantly captured by the cinematographer Prajish, music composition by Sreevalsan J Menon, Edit, Graphics and Sound Mixing by Anoop M and narrated well by the voice dubbing artist Devi.
Dr. Sunanda Nair is currently the Founder Director of Sunanda’s Performing Arts Centre – SPARC, Senior Lecturer at Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya and Founder Director at Shrutilaya Institute of Fine Arts, Mumbai. She pursued her education at the University of Mumbai and did her Masters in Performing Arts at Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya. The thesis for her PhD was “An Intrinsic Lyrical Feminism in Mohiniyattam” from the Mumbai University. Till her tenth grade, Dr. Sunanda Nair went to Saint Thomas Academy and Vivek Vidyala to pursue her Plus Two. Dr. Sunanda Nair lives in Houston, Texas in the US.
Dr. Sunanda Nair initiated Bharatanatyam training at the age of six and she pursued Kathakali training under Kalamandalam Krishnankutty Warrier. Dr. Sunanda is the disciple of renowned Mohiniyattam exponent Padmabhushan Dr. Kanak Rele, who is credited for the revival and popularisation of Mohiniyattam classical Kerala dance form. Dr. Sunanda Nair’s guide is none other than Dr. Rele. In fact, Sundanda was the first student to earn a Masters degree in Mohiniyattam as a student of Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya, University of Mumbai, where she completed her seven year course in just five years. NNKM is the closest to to the Gurukula Sampradaya.
After graduation, Dr. Sunanda Nair joined the staff at Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya and was a lecturer at her alma mater for nine years until 1999. Dr. Sunanda cleared the NET examination, a UGC requirement to continue teaching at Nalanda. After that she has given many performance. She also pursued training from many renowned artists such as Kalaimamani Kadirvelu, Kalaimamani Mahalingam Pillam, Guru TV Sounderajan, Dipak Majumdar and Tejuswini Rao in Kattumannar Muthukumar Pillai’s bani (style or school of thought).
While she was still in the high school in 1980, young Sunanda started the Strutilaya Institute of Fine Arts for training students in both Mohiniyattam and Bharatanatyam. SPARC is now in its tenth year of operation in the US. At SPARC, the rich tradition of Indian Classical Dance is being imparted to promising artists.
Dr. Sunanda Nair has performed the world over. She has performed in the Festival of India in the former USSR, Spring Friendship Art Festival in North Korea, performances in the Middle East, Singapore and the US. In India, Dr. Nair had performed at Khajuraho Festival in Madhya Pradesh, Konarak Festival in Odhisha, Yuva Mahotsav in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur; Nishagandhi, Kerala Tourism in Thiruvananthapuram; Kalidas Samaraoh, Ujjain; Modera Festival in Gujarat, Mysore Dassera Festival; Nirityotsava, Central Sangeet Natak Academy in Bangalore; Indo-Indonesian Friendship Society; Valathol Jayanti at Kerala Kalamandalam; SAARC Conference in Mumbai; Sangeeta Sabha in Pune; Swathi Thirunal Sangeeth Sabha in Thiruvananthapuram; Chakradhar Samaraoh, Rajasthan Sangeet natak Academy; Indian International Centre, Apna Utsavv in New Delhi; Krishna Gana Sabha, Bharat Kalachar, Bharatiya Music and arts in chennai; the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai; Haridas Sangeet Sammelan in Mumbai; Kal-Ke-Kalakar in Mumbai; Nitya Nityati and Tanmai Arohanam Festival in Bangalore; India Habitat Centre in New Delhi; Shree Chitra Dance Festival in Thiruvananthapuram; Natyanjali Trust, Music Academy in Chennai; National Festival of Mohiniyattam, Nehru Centre in Mumbai and Soorya Prampara Dance Festival in Thiruvananthapuram; Dharini in Kochi; Monsoon Festival Art India in New Delhi; Raindrops Festival NCPA in Samved Mumbai; Bharatam in Trishur; Sopanam in Mumbai; Asia Pacific Heritage Festival and Kerala Sangeet Natak Academy in Bhopal.
Dr. Sunanda Nair has won several accolades such as Kalarathnam from Kerala Kalamanndalam in 2016, Kalaasree 2011 from the Krala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi, Global Excellence Award 2011 from GIA in New Delhi, Kalaasagar 2010 in memory of Lata Kalamandalam Krishnankutty Poduval; Abhinaya Shiromani from Surya Performing Arts in Missouri, the US; Scholarship from Central Sangeet Natak Akademi for advanced training in abhinaya and choreography;’Singar Mani’ from Sur Singar Samsad, Mumbai; Nelluvai Nambeeshan Smarak Award for Mohiniattam; ‘Natya Mayuri’ Natyanjali Trust, Chennai; Best Ethnic Classical Arts Award, New Orleans; 2003 Louisiana State Artist Roster Louisiana Touring Directory Global Excellence Dance Award, New Orleans; Presidents Award for Community Service, Indian Association of New Orleans.