Sankaradas Swamigal, Pammal Ok. Sambandha Mudaliar and Paridimar Kalaignar are known as the Trinity of Tamil theatre. Each led to revolutionary adjustments to revive Tamil theatre and take it to better heights. November 13 marked the loss of life centenary of Sankaradas Swamigal. Born in 1867 in Tuticorin, he developed a eager curiosity in Tamil at an early age, because of his father Damodaran Pillai, who was recognized for his proficiency within the language. He later mastered its nuances underneath the steerage of scholar Palani Dandapani Swamigal.
Sankaradas labored as an accountant in a salt manufacturing facility for some time earlier than getting into the world of Tamil theatre. He was then related to a drama firm run by Ramudu Iyer and Kalyanarama Iyer, initially as an actor and later, as a playwright. Thus started a journey spanning greater than three many years, one that will see him script virtually 50 performs. Most of his works shaped the corpus of the Special Drama repertoire, which refers to a type of theatre the place actors from varied locations are employed ‘specially’ for a efficiency. They meet simply earlier than the present and go on stage with minimal rehearsal, as every of them is acquainted with the standardised dialogues and songs of the play. Sankaradas Swamigal mentored a number of artistes via his Boys Company (the place boys are skilled in theatre within the gurukula system) Tattva Meenalochani Vidwat Bala Sabha. Among his disciples had been Nawab Rajamanickam, T.Ok. Shanmugam, M.R. Radha, Ok. Sarangapani and S.G. Kittappa, who went on to develop into legends on this planet of Tamil theatre.
In his memoirs Enadhu Nataka Vaazhkkai, Shanmugam writes that he and his brothers got here underneath the tutelage of Sankaradas in 1918. Shanmugam appears to have been dearest to Sankaradas, who wrote ‘Abhimanyu Sundari’ preserving him in thoughts for the position of the protagonist. Remarkably, the play, which ran to just about 4 hours was written totally over one night time. Shanmugam additionally says that Sankaradas was a stickler for self-discipline. He by no means composed songs in reward of zamindars or rich people to achieve their patronage.
In 1921, Sankaradas fell in poor health simply because the members of his drama firm had been leaving for Madras for a collection of performances. However, the tour went on as per schedule. His speech and mobility had been affected due to paralysis. He was taken to Madras for remedy. He nonetheless attended performances and watched them from the wings. Though he couldn’t converse, he was alert and thru gestures would typically admonish actors who forgot their traces. Sankaradas Swamigal spent his final days in Pondicherry, the place he handed away on the night time of November 13.
As Shanmugam went on to develop into one of many legends of Tamil theatre, he by no means forgot the position of his mentor in his journey. In 1955, he authored a brief biography of the playwright titled, Tamizh Nataka Thalaimai Asiriyar. With the help of colleagues corresponding to S.V. Sahasranamam and T.N. Sivathanu, he began the Sankaradas Swamigal Ninaivu Mandram and organised lectures and a number of other occasions to advertise theatre. In September 1967 the Mandram celebrated the beginning centenary of Sankaradas Swamigal. A statue of the playwright was unveiled on the historic Tamukkam grounds in Madurai. A memorial was additionally constructed on the Karuvadikuppam cemetery in Pondicherry, the place his final rites had been carried out. The Mandram is now run by Shanmugam’s sons, T.Ok.S Kalaivanan and T.Ok.S Pugazhendhi and honours artistes yearly.
Organisations such because the Tamil Nadu Nadaga Nadigar Sangam in Madurai proceed to carry out ‘Special Dramas’ throughout South India in reminiscence of the legend.
His ten finest
Harichandra Mayaana Kaandam
Rama Ravana Yuddham
Prabhu Linga Leelai
The author is a heritage buff and beginner theatre artiste.