Many leading actors cut their teeth on Kala Nilayam plays.

K.S. Nagarajan would surely have lost count of the awards that he has received for his contribution to Tamil theatre. Thus when Hamsadhwani recently felicitated him with a special honour, the audience gathered in large numbers to cheer for the doyen, who at 94, has directed a new play, ‘Yaar Paiyyan?' that was staged recently for Karthik Fine Arts.

Nagarajan, a retired State Government officer, has been acting in plays since his school days. The interest continued in college, the repertoire including Shakespeare. He performed in Sambanda Mudaliar's ‘Vedhaala Ulagam,' ‘Manohara,' etc., and in ‘Expected,' directed by his guru Gopalaswamy Iyengar, (the cast included R.S. Manohar) and Naradhar Sreenivasa Rao's (Ananda Vikatan) ‘Samsara Bandham,' etc., for Indian Fine Arts Society's drama section.

Cultural yatra

KSN lost his father when he was 21 and it was his mother and maternal uncle P.S. Krishnaswamy who encouraged him to pursue his passion. He was one of the founder members of Triplicane Fine Arts Club in 1946 which was later re-christened Kala Nilayam (1968) on the advice of Poornam Viswanathan. “Let there not be geographic limits,” he had said.

In 1978, Marina started his own troupe and in 1979 Poornam Viswanathan followed suit. KSN's cultural Yatra, however, continued as he encouraged new writers and artists. There would be none in the field who would not have been associated with Kala Nilayam at some point or the other. Chandru, Amudhan and Karur Rangarajan are some of its members who have been associated with KSN for nearly four decades.

KSN's son K.S.N. Sundar has been associated with his father's plays since 1958. At 10, he acted as Sambu's son Sundhu in Devan's ‘Thuppariyum Sambu.' Also he has contributed 14 stories, including ‘Kadhal Kalyana Vaibhogame,' ‘Nerukku Ner,' ‘Aayiram Kalathu Payir,' ‘Mr.Middle Class' and ‘Yaar Paiyyan.' The association surpasses the record of another duo - YGP-Y.G. Mahendra. Sundar directs plays on his own but seeks his father's guidance and supervision. Highly religious, KSN directed ‘Kadavul Engae?' (1958) that was a big hit. He created history by directing the play ‘Kurinji Malar' with a total of 113 artists, highest for a social play.

Koothapiran, Major Sundararajan, S.R. Veeraraghavan, Gemini Mahalingam and many others, graduated from Triplicane Fine Arts Club and Kala Nilayam. Sachu recalls that it was KSN, who gave her the break by casting her in a play. Regarding current trend, audience these days expect plays to be short, not more than 90 minutes, preferably 7-8.30 p.m. From a team of over 60 members, troupes now have 15.

KSN's Ouvre

Some of the plays directed by KSN:

Jeeva Bhoomi

Devan's works

Marina's Thani Kudithanam

Oor Vambu

Kaal Kattu

Vadapazhaniyil Valmiki

Savi's Washingtonil Tirumanam

Sujatha's Oru Kolai Oru Payanam

Kadavul Vandirundar

Poornam Viswanathan's Under Secretary…

Keywords: K.S. Nagarajan

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