With Koothapiran, theatre personality, who shares interesting facts about his journeyin the drama world.
When in 1952 he entered to the drama artists chamber at the end of the play ‘Kalvanin Kadhali' to congratulate ‘Muthaiyan' the hero, played by T.K. Shanmugam, he would not have imagined that he was on the road to the drama world. Nor would he have imagined he would pave the way for his sons and grandson to enter the field.
Even at the age of 80, he is quite active staging his play ‘Kaasikku Pona Ganapathy.' Recently he was in Tiruchi for the show.
For Koothapiran, drama is everything. On the day he was in Tiruchi, Narada Gana Sabha, Chennai, was to confer the ‘Lifetime Achievement award' on him.
“For me, staging a play is more important. So I have asked my grandson R. Vignesh to receive the award on my behalf,” he says.
Inspired by TKS, he said that he started scripting ‘Aval Ninaivu' which was staged at Rasika Ranjani Sabha, Chennai, in 1953. “Natesa Iyer, secretary of the sabha, encouraged me." he says.
He owes his achievement to great artists particularly Poornam Viswanathan and Sahasranamam. “It was Poornam Viswanathan who taught me values,” he reminisces.
In 1954, he staged the play ‘Then Mozhiyal' in which Cho. Ramaswamy played the character Cho. “Dr. Mu. Varadarasanar presided over the play and there has been no looking back since,” he says as he explains his association with Cho.
Stint with AIR
His father was out of work and Koothapiran being the eldest, had the responsibility of taking care of his family. It was at this juncture that he was appointed a casual announcer at the All India Radio, Chennai. “Although it took some years for me to earn Rs. 100, AIR gave me several opportunities,” he said.
The ‘Vanoli Anna' assignment that he got provided him an opportunity to nurture the talents of children.
The ‘Siruvar Isai Arangu' and ‘children drama festival' were some of the programmes he had initiated.
“Great musicians in the order of Rajam, Chingleput Ranganathan, Kadaiyanallur Venkatraman and K.C. Thiyagarajan selected Sudha Ragunathan, Unni Krishnan and Manoj Siva as child artists, who later became famous” he added, showing the strict norms adhered to in the selection of child artists for the AIR music competitions.
His six-month long series, ‘Moovanna Kodi Uyarthuvom,' which was aired on Sundays, attracted teachers, parents and listeners by virtue of its integrity-based theme.
Kanchi Paramacharya who chanced to listen to one of the series, invited Koothapiran and listened to the entire script. He was conferred the ‘Sanmarga Prakasamani' by the Mutt.
His role as an announcer in AIR provided him an opportunity to understand the humility and simplicity of eminent artists including GNB, Dr. Balamuralikrishna and Semmangudi. “It has been a great gift for me,” he recalls with a smile.
He has scripted 26 plays and acted in 6,000 in the past 59 years.
His real name is Natarajan but it was his wife Lalitha who advised him to change his name to Koothapiran. “The name change was in accordance with the translation for Natarajan as codified by Adheenam mutts. Strangely, the name change was effected at Vaitheeswaran Koil,” he quips.
His sons, Ganesan and Rathinam, are also in the drama field.
Koothapiran considers the cash prize of Rs.150 that he received from Rajaji, for his children's play ‘Annai Sol Amirtham,' as a great gift. “It was a huge sum in 1958,” he says.