“Children are children no matter what generation they belong to. They grow up according to how we mould them”

His rich and emotive voice has entertained hundreds of children, who grew up listening to his radio programmes.

At 75 he is still sprightly and busy conceptualising programmes for children’s clubs.

A master storyteller and veteran dramatist Koothapiran, fondly known as ‘Vanoli Anna’, shares his experiences with K. Lakshmi.

“I get my story ideas when I observe children. They have hundreds of stories hidden in them,” says Mr. Koothapiran, who has narrated over 1,000 stories in the popular ‘Pappa Malar’ segment on the All India Radio (AIR), for over 25 years, and through other television programmes.

Entry into AIR

His penchant for children’s literature began right from his school days in the 1950s.

He recalled his entry into AIR to assist in the production of children’s programmes when R. Aiyaswamy was ‘Radio Anna’. Children’s writers Azha. Valliappa and P. Thooran were of immense support to him.

His stories in Tamil were simple, short, and featured a few characters and a moral for children.

“Some stories are interspersed with real life characters and incidents that strike me,” he says.

Asked about how he managed to retain a captive audience for years together, Mr. Koothapiran says, “I involve listeners in the story-telling experience and most of the names of the characters come from the audience. Stories must be realistic and witty.”

He has authored nearly 20 books, novels and plays for children.

Several short stories penned by him have now been compiled as books for children.

Mr. Koothapiran, who strongly believes in imparting cultural and patriotic values to children, has incorporated issues of national significance, such as the interlinking of rivers, into his plays.

During his tenure in AIR, he identified talented youngsters and gave them a platform to showcase their creativity in radio programmes.

“Carnatic artistes Mandolin U. Srinivas and Sudha Raghunathan were regular contributors to my shows then.”

For a man who has spent most of his time working with children, reviving the Federation of Children’s Clubs, founded in 1968 with R. Aiyaswamy, was a dream that came true.

“We plan to feature cultural programmes in rural areas once in every three months, based on children’s literature.”

Underlining the need for such clubs, he says such clubs would help ensure that children do not lose out on the pleasures of childhood. “Children are children no matter what generation they belong to. They grow up according to how we mould them,” he adds.