Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Tamil Culture - the Heart of Tamil National Consciousness > Tamil Drama   - நாடகத் தமிழ >  Tamil Cinema -  தமிழ் திரைப் படம்


Indian Saga  - "Tamil drama has its beginning in the 19th century. Among the early exponents is Sundaram Pillai whose 'Manonmaniam' was the most popular verse drama. Sankaradasa Swamigal, Sambanda Mudaliar and V.G. Suryanarayana Sastri wrote dramas and played important roles in them.Thanjay Govind Swamy Rao and Venkataswamy Rayar wrote plays and staged performances in various states and east Asian countries.

Nawab Rajamanickam ('Nandanar', Trichy Kannaya Naidu ('Dasavatharam', 'Valli Thirumanam', 'Andal'), Viswanatha Das, S.G.Kittappa, Madurai Bhaskara Das, T.K.S.Brothers ('Ouvaiyyar'), K.R.Ramaswamy, Kali N.Ratnam, P.U.Chinnappa, M.G.Chakrapani, M.G.Ramachandran, N.S.Krishnan ('Naam Iruvar', 'Paithyakaran') and Thyagraja Bhagavathar, S.V.Sahasranamam, T.A.Madhuram, Sivaji Ganeshan and M.S.Draupati earned fame either as artiste or writers.

Annadurai ('Oarlravu'), 'Velaikkari'), M.Karunanidhi, M.R.Radha (Raktha Kanneer), R.S.Manohar ('Lankeswaran', 'Dronar'), Komal Swamyanathan, Cho Ramaswamy ('Swambhavamy Yuge Yuge', 'Mohammed Bin Tughlaq'), Mauli, Visu, Mereena and Poornam Vishwanathan also have contributed for the development of Tamil theatre."

In Memory of Tamil Theatre - Gopalie, 21 August 2008

Theru-k-kuthu, Traditional Theatre of Tamilnadu and Elam: A Comparative Study -  T. Balasaravanan

The Ritualistic Origins of Tamil Drama - K. Sivathamby, 1966

Drama in Ancient Tamil Society, K. Sivathamby, 1981

Music in Drama - Kalai Mamani S.R. Kasturi
Comment by M.G.Ram Ganesh , 10 November 2005

The Alps Koothadigal -  Anton Ponraj

பம்மல் சம்பந்த முதலியார் - தெ.மதுசூதனன், 24 September 2002

 நாடகத் தமிழ் வளர்த்த பரிதிமாற்கலைஞர்

A.N.Kanthasamy on நாடகத் தமிழ்!

Stigmas of the Tamil Stage - Susan Seizer

நாடகக் கலை வளர்த்த நாடகத் தமிழ்!

Tamil Theatre & Theatre In Tamil

Modern Tamil Drama

The Tamil Dramatic Heritage "..Seevakacintamani which is supposed to be a literary work of the 10th century A.D. contains more than forty five references about drama ..There are sure indications in the epic to point out the highly esteemed position held by drama in Tamil society. Perunkathai and Kamparamayanam also speak about drama in a number of places ... In the beginning dance and drama were one and the same and as time passed drama slowly emerged into separate art. ...The various Koothus of the ancient Tamils have helped much..

Tamil Drama in Singapore

Tamil Drama in Bahrein

Books on Tamil Drama

Tamil Refugees Rehabilitation Organization (TRRO) Presents Drama on War Widows in Tamil Eelam


TAMIL culture:
the Heart of Tamil National Consciousness

Tamil Drama -  - நாடகத் தமிழ்

"படிப்பும் பேச்சும் இயற்றமிழ்!
பாடும் பாட்டே இசைத்தமிழ்!
நடிப்பும் கூத்தும் சேர்ந்ததே
நாடகத் தமிழ் என்பார்கள்
முடிக்கும் மூன்றும் முத்தமிழே!
முத்தமிழ் என்பது புத்தமுதே!
முடித்த வண்ணம் நம் தமிழே
முத்தமிழ் என்றே சொல்வார்கள்."
 - Paventhar Bharathidasan On முத்தமிழ்...

Dr. C.R. Krishnamurti in Thamizh Literature Through the Ages
தமிழ் இலக்கியம் - தொன்று தொட்டு இன்று வரை...

Of the three divisions of Thamizh literature (முத்தமிழ்) the one which had undergone radical changes in its format and contents since ancient times is the Stage n^Atakat Thamizh,(நாடகத்தமிழ்) As in so many other facets of their literary pursuits, the ancient Thamizh people had stipulated specifications for the physical set up of the stage (அரங்கு, அவை).ThiruvaLLuvar has used the analogy of people thronging to the stage and disappearing as soon as the dance is over to emphasize the fleeting nature of wealth.

கூத்தாட் டவைக்குழாத் தற்றே பெருஞ்செல்வம்
போக்கு மதுவிளிந் தற்று

The stages were used for different types of dances (கூத்து)specific for the regions, e.g., Aychiyar Kuravai (ஆய்ச்சியர் குரவை) Kuravaik kUtthu (குரவைக்கூத்து), KoRRavaik (கொற்றவைக்கூத்து) The dances were, in essence an enactment of mythological legends. They were also used for conveying thanks to the deities for good rains and crops or paying homage to the valour or patronage of Kings and chieftains. iLango atikaL  (இளங்கோ அடிகள்) had portrayed various kinds of dances performed in the different regions(திணை) in several chapters (அரங்கேற்று காதை, வேனிற்காதை, ஆய்ச்சியர் குரவை)

The dancers for whom dancing was a hereditary avocation were called ViRaliar (விறலியர்)  and KUtthar (கூத்தர்).. The singers who accompanied them were called PANar (பாணர்).

Even at this early point in history, there was a distinction between the high form of dancing performed before the elites and those meant for the recreation of the rural folks (வேடுவ வரி). When the Bhakthi movement was at its peak, stories pertaining to the godheads were played on the stage. Up to the medieval period, the Thamizh stage was used mainly as a forum for dances.

This tradition continued till the 18th or 19th century when dance dramas; rAma n^Atakam  - (ராமநாடகம் - அருணாசலகவி, நந்தனார் சரித்திரம் - கோபாலகிருஷணபாரதியார், அழகர் குறவஞ்சி - கவிகுஞ்சர பாரதி, குற்றாலக் குறவஞ்சி - திரிகூடராசப்ப கவிராயர்) were performed on the stage.

Other kinds of dance dramas included the PaLLu n^Atakam (பள்ளு நாடகம்) which is the dance drama performed by those in the agricultural sector describing themes specific to agrarian conditions e.g., MukkUdal paLLu (முக்கூடற் பள்ளு)by ennayinAp pulavar (என்னயினாப்புலவர்), n^ondip paLLu (நொண்டிப் பள்ளு)by MArimutthup pulavar (மாரிமுத்துப்புலவர்) is a humorous political satire.

With the arrival of the Europeans into the subcontinent, the definition of 'stage' began to assume a different meaning. By this time, Shakespearean plays became popular throughout the English speaking world.

Following this trend, Thamizh authors began to imitate English poets (Shakespeare, Sheridan) in writing plays in verses involving fictional themes and characters.

Sun^tharam PiLLai's (சுந்தரம் பிள்ளை) ManOnmaNiam மனோன்மணியம் made history in this regard, though the play was difficult to enact as a play on the stage.

Pammal Sampan^tha MuthaliyAr (ப.சம்பந்த முதலியார்) considered to be the doyen of the Thamizh stage, wrote the famous play, ManOharA(மனோகரா),  which later appeared as a film with SivAji GanEsan (சிவாஜி கணேசன்) playing the role of ManOharan. Sampan^tha MuthaliyAr was the founder of the SuguNa VilAs Sabha (சுகுணவிலாஸசபா) which fostered the growth of the Thamizh stage in the years to come.

Others who have made tremendous contributions to the Thamizh stage in recent times include: NawAb rAjamAnickam (நவாப் ராஜமாணிக்கம்).  T.K.S. Brothers (டி.கே. எஸ. சகோதரர்கள்), R.S.ManOhar (ஆர்.எஸ. மனோகர்). ChO rAmasAmi (சோ ராமசாமி), K.A.ThangavElu (கே.ஏ. தங்கவேலு), SivAji GanEsan (சிவாஜி கணேசன்), and S.V.SEkhar (எஸ.வி.சேகர்).

Several Shakespearean plays and Sanskrit dramas were translated into Thamizh and readers interested in additional details would find a series of very interesting articles in "The Heritage of the Thamizh people" published by the International Institute of Thamizh Studies (1983).

The Alps Koothadigal - சுவிஸ் தமிழ் நாடகக் கல்லூரி பற்றிய விவரணப் படம் - Anton Ponraj [see also Tamil Diaspora - a Trans State Nation - Switzerland]

 " 'Alps Koothadigal' is a documentary about Sri Lankan Tamil theatre activities in Switzerland. ...the Sri Lankans stage dramas to express their views about the ethnic crisis in Sri Lanka and they have taken the drama medium, as plays have wide reach in the international arena.

The refugees have good cooperation from the Swiss. Some of the Swiss have also acted in the plays. Some of the dramas are also in English and German, so that many people can understand the life and migration of people from Sri Lanka to many other parts of the world.

The dramas were initially staged at places where a large number of people congregate. These dramas created an awareness among the Swiss about the Sri Lankan crisis.

Tamils were working in hotels, petrol pumps and many other places. They perform plays after they complete their work, so they do not have enough rest time. To stage a drama, they take a lot of pains.

The students at the Swiss Tamil drama college are also trained in the drama field. After a training of three years, they get the title 'Kalaivalari'. The students trained here perform in many television plays and other plays..."

Comment by M.G.Ram Ganesh, 10 November 2005

" I  came across your web page  (on Tamil Drama)  in an attempt to find more about Thiru. Poornam Viswanathan. I was surprised to note that his name was not mentioned, although there is mention of S. Ve. Shekar, ( I don't deny that Shekar should be mentioned). I would appreciate if you could add Thiru. Poornam and as well Crazy Mohan., Kovai Anuradha, Venkat, etc, who are doing great things in the drama field inspite of fierce competition from Film & TV world. Although current and last generation of Tamilians knows him very well as Film Actor, Thiru. Poornam acted in more than 4500 stage plays all over India. Apart from this he had written nearly 160 short stories, dramas. As he was working for All India Radio Delhi, he staged his plays in Delhi upto 1964  and then continued in Chennai. He is a founder of Poornam New Theater, which continues to nurture & develop the Tamil drama world..."


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