Born on 25 May 1937 in the village of Kothachira in Palakkad district of Kerala, Shri Kalamandalam Gopi was initiated in Kathakali by Guru Thekkinkattil Ravunni Nair. He later trained at Kerala Kalamandalam, Cheruthuruthy, under Gurus Ramankutty Nair and Padmanabhan Nair among other teachers. Shri Gopi joined the Kalamandalam faculty on completion of his studies, and eventually became Principal of the institution. As the leading performer of Kalamandalam’s Kathakali troupe, he performed extensively around the world, winning appreciation for his art. Shri Kalamandalam Gopi is recognized as one of the masters of Kathakali today. He excels in the roles of Bhima, Nala, Arjun, Bahuka, Rukmangada and Dharmaputra. Outside of Kathakali, he has acted in films including Vanaprastham, Santham, and Loudspeaker. Film director Adoor Gopalakrishnan has made a National Award-winning film on Kalamandalam Gopi for the Films Division, showing his life on and off the stage. Shri Gopi has also been the subject of several other documentaries. For his outstanding work as a performer and teacher, Shri Gopi has been honoured by institutions within and outside Kerala. The honours bestowed on him include the Kerala Kalamandalam Award (1985), the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1987), the Kerala Sangeet Nataka Akademi Award (1995), the Kerala Kalamandalm Fellowship (2002), the Kerala Sangeet Nataka Akademi Fellowship (2008), the Padma Shri (2009), and the Kalidas Samman (2011). Shri Kalamandalam Gopi is elected Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi for his contribution to Indian dance-theatre.