Born on 26 June 1916 at Kozhikode, Kerala, Shri Chemancheri Kunhiraman Nair received his
training in Kathakali under Gurus Karunakara Menon, Ambu Panicker, Katathanad Ramunni Nair,
and Matasseri Kochugovindan Nair. He also learnt Bharatanatyam under Kalamandalam Madhavan
Nair, Salem Rajaratnam Pillai, and Balachandra Bhai of Madras. In the art of Kathakali, he
specialized in Kallatikkotan of the Kaplingatan sampradayam.
Through his long career, Shri Kunhiraman Nair has acquired a reputation both as a performer and teacher of Kathakali. He has performed various challenging roles including the Srikrishna Vesham in Santhanagopalam. He has also choreographed several dance-dramas and presented them on prestigious platforms all over India. In 1945 he established his institution Bharateeya Natya Kalalayam at Kannur where he has imparted training in dance. From 1947, he served as Principal of the Bharatheeya Natya Kalalayam at Tellicherry, and from 1973 of the Pokkad Kalalayam at Tellicherry. At present, Shri Nair is serving as Administrative Officer and Principal of the Kathakali Vidyalayam at Cheliya, Kerala.
Shri Nair has received various honours for his work including the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi Award (1979) and the Fellowship of the Academy (1999); the Kerala Kalamandalam Visishta Kala Seva Award (2002); and the Kalaratnam Award of Kerala Kalamandalam (2009).
Shri Chemancheri Kunhiraman Nair receives the Sangeet Natak Akademi Tagore Award for his contribution to Kathakali.