Distribution of ‘Kalaisemmal’ awards to four senior artistes, ‘Valar ilam kalaignar’ awards to a couple of young artistes and a cheque of Rs.10,000 to the wife of a tabla exponent, marked the seventh anniversary celebrations of the Tiruchi Mavatta Nataka Nadigargal Sangam on Saturday.

Rasu Mathuravan, film director and chief guest, gave away ‘Kalaisemmal’ awards to M.S. Jagana alias Jahangir of Madurai, G.Sivan Srinivasan of Chennai, A.P.S.Manimaran of Kuthalam near Mayiladuthurai and K.Varadharajan of Namakkal. He gave away ‘Valar ilam kalaignar’ awards to K. Barakath Ali and A. Ahmed Ibrahim, both of Madurai.

Jerad, actor, presented the cheque of Rs.10, 000 to S. Sebastiammal, wife of S.Selvaraj, a tabla artiste. The awards were given in recognition of the services rendered by them in promoting plays.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Rasu Mathuravan said plays formed the basis for entertainment industry. Legendary actors such as M.R. Radha, Sivaji Ganesan, and M.G. Ramachandran moved to the tinsel world from plays.

As drama artistes have a good acting background, a lot of film directors prefer to give them repeated chance. Referring to the comment of M.S.Mohamed Masthan, general secretary, Tiruchi Mavatta Nataka Nadigargal Sangam, that poor patronage is leading the drama industry to the verge of extinction, Mr.Mathuravan said nothing would halt the progress of drama field. It would flourish for ever and no one need have doubt about it, he added.

R. Gunasekaran, secretary, Folk Artistes Welfare Board, commended the Tiruchi Mavatta Nataka Nadigargal Sangam for initiating programmes in the interest of the drama artistes.

He said that the State government has recently hiked the annual income limit of drama artistes, who had crossed 55 years for getting the pension, from Rs.24, 000 to Rs.60, 000.

Mr.Gunasekaran explained the programmes implemented by the board and called upon artistes to enrol themselves as members of the board to enjoy the benefits offered by it.

Mr.Masthan explained the steps initiated by the association for promoting drama industry.

G.M.G. Mahendran, industrialist, P. Manivel, State president of the Indian National Human Rights Movement, Muthuvelazhagan, veteran director, S.R.Kathan, president of the sangam, and R.Ramachandran, honorary president, offered felicitations.