A.R. Srinivasan, known as ARS, is in the 50th year of his acting career on stage. An urbane actor who has done a variety of roles, he has a fund of stories to share about drama in the city.
He grew up surrounded by dramatists and artists and admires the art form. As a boy, he watched the ‘singing’ stars K.B. Sundarambal and M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar. “The best part about the early days of drama is Rama could walk in singing ‘Gopiyar konjum Ramana’ though if you apply logic you would know that the Krishna avatar came after the one of Rama,” he says.
ARS, who has been with the United Amateur Artists for most of his life, says he opted to remain a stage artist. According to him, acting can be described as exaggerated, subtle or non-acting but not overacting. “People say Sivaji (Ganesan) was melodramatic. But then the audience demanded it,” he says.
He belongs to a generation that set store by diction. “Playwrights paid attention to language. The dialogues for historical plays were lyrical, rhythmic. Such Tamil is rarely spoken these days,” he rues.
“There was a time when ‘houseful’ boards hung outside sabhas. It goes to show that though for us acting was a hobby, people enjoyed good plays and stories. MGR and Sivaji would preside over the silver jubilee shows of plays. They would finish their film shootings early to watch our plays. It thrilled us to perform before them,” he recalls.
His admiration for contemporaries is laced with the hope that someday he will get to see drama regain its full glory.
Chennai Central at The Hindu celebrates Madras Week
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