Numerous attempts to list out the 64 art forms, referred in ancient Tamil literature, have led to different versions barring a few similarities. ‘Othigai’, a series of documentaries launched recently, is a similar attempt but in a different line of thinking.
It is an earnest effort to understand and bring to light the essence of these art forms, their origin, development and their association with custom and tradition.
“In the name of sophistication, we have moved away from our base, the culturally rich folk art. . If this trend continues, we may lose our cultural identity. It is our bounden duty to understand our roots,” says Dinarakan Jai, the director. The documentaries, produced by C. Deenathayalapandian of Jegamathi Kalaikoodam, try to answer pertinent questions on what is art, why it is an integral part of the society and how it flourished as part of religious ceremonies.
The director researched for more than 18 months and recorded statements of several scholars bringing out the salient features of these art forms.
“Any art is a reflection of life standing testimony to the cultural history of the society. It reflects the social ethos and traditional practices of people. Living in a country with diversified cultures as ours, it becomes a valid document,” he says.
The director has not failed to mention how influence of Western culture has made life difficult for traditional arts resulting in degeneration of these art forms to suit modern trends.
To start with Mr. Dinakaran Jai has come out with three titles – art of sculpting, dance and bharatanatyam. Each documentary runs for about 52 minutes capturing the important aspects with reference to historical background. He also plans to release the next set of three titles – art of painting, drama and astrology – soon.
To spread the message across and help students understand and respect culture, the production team will be distributing DVDs of the documentaries free of cost to school students and researchers.