Kathakali maestro Oyoor Kochugovinda Pillai, a widely revered thespian of classical theatre, died at his residence at Oyoor near Kollam on Saturday, family sources said.
The veteran artist was 92 and is survived by six sons and three daughters.
A perfectionist in his art, Pillai stood apart on account of acting skills, an uncanny ability to express minute shades of emotions and body control.
He was one of the last links of towering artistes of the golden era of Kathakali, following the revival of interest in classical theatre due to efforts by Poet Vallathol towards the mid-20th century.
Though he had played a wide range of mythological characters during his career spanning over eight decades, Oyoor was best known for his role of the 'Hamsam' (Swan) in the Kathakali play 'Nalacharitham.'
As the 'bird messenger' plying between king Nala and princess Damayanti, Pillai created a new dimension to the character by submusing sympathy with humour.
Pillai began learning Kathakali as an eight-year-old under the tutelage of Chathannur Velupillai. After the initial stage, he continued his learning under revered maestros like Kurichi Kunjan Panikkar, which helped him hone his skills.
He was a good teacher as well as a splendid performer, known as Oyoor Asan among his disciples.
Pillai was honoured with several awards, including that of the Kendra Sahitya Akademy.