Tamil Drama & Film
- நாடகத் தமிழ்
நடிப்பும் கூத்தும் சேர்ந்ததே
நாடகத் தமிழ் என்பார்கள்.
முடிக்கும் மூன்றும் முத்தமிழே!
முத்தமிழ் என்பது புத்தமுதே!
முடித்த வண்ணம் நம் தமிழே
முத்தமிழ் என்றே சொல்வார்கள்."
Dr. C.R. Krishnamurti in Thamizh Literature Through the Ages
தமிழ் இலக்கியம் - தொன்று தொட்டு இன்று வரை...
Of the three divisions of Thamizh literature (முத்தமிழ்) the one which had undergone radical changes in its format and contents since
ancient times is the Stage n^Atakat Thamizh,(நாடகத்தமிழ்)
As in so many other facets of their literary pursuits, the ancient Thamizh people
had stipulated specifications for the physical set up of the stage
அவை).ThiruvaLLuvar has used the analogy
of people thronging to the stage and disappearing as soon as the dance is over to
emphasize the fleeting nature of wealth.
கூத்தாட் டவைக்குழாத் தற்றே பெருஞ்செல்வம்
போக்கு மதுவிளிந் தற்று
The stages were used for different types of dances (கூத்து)specific for the regions, e.g., Aychiyar
Kuravai (ஆய்ச்சியர் குரவை)
(கொற்றவைக்கூத்து) The dances were, in essence an
enactment of mythological legends. They were also used for conveying thanks to the deities
for good rains and crops or paying homage to the valour or patronage of Kings and
chieftains. iLango atikaL (இளங்கோ அடிகள்) had
portrayed various kinds of dances performed in the different regions(திணை) in several chapters
(அரங்கேற்று காதை, வேனிற்காதை, ஆய்ச்சியர் குரவை)
The dancers for whom dancing was a hereditary avocation were called ViRaliar
(விறலியர்) and KUtthar (கூத்தர்).. The singers who accompanied them were
called PANar (பாணர்).
Even at this early
point in history, there was a distinction between the high form of dancing performed
before the elites and those meant for the recreation of the rural folks
வரி). When the Bhakthi movement was at its
peak, stories pertaining to the godheads were played on the stage. Up to the medieval
period, the Thamizh stage was used mainly as a forum for dances.
This tradition continued
till the 18th or 19th century when dance dramas; rAma n^Atakam -
(ராமநாடகம் - அருணாசலகவி, நந்தனார் சரித்திரம் - கோபாலகிருஷணபாரதியார், அழகர்
குறவஞ்சி - கவிகுஞ்சர பாரதி, குற்றாலக் குறவஞ்சி - திரிகூடராசப்ப கவிராயர்) were performed on the stage.
Other kinds of dance dramas included the
PaLLu n^Atakam (பள்ளு நாடகம்) which is the
dance drama performed by those in the agricultural sector describing themes specific to
agrarian conditions e.g., MukkUdal paLLu (முக்கூடற் பள்ளு)by ennayinAp pulavar
(என்னயினாப்புலவர்), n^ondip paLLu
MArimutthup pulavar (மாரிமுத்துப்புலவர்) is
a humorous political satire.
With the arrival of the Europeans into the subcontinent, the definition of 'stage'
began to assume a different meaning. By this time, Shakespearean plays became popular
throughout the English speaking world.
Following this trend, Thamizh authors began to
imitate English poets (Shakespeare,
Sheridan) in writing plays in verses involving
fictional themes and characters.
Sun^tharam PiLLai's (சுந்தரம் பிள்ளை) ManOnmaNiam
மனோன்மணியம் made history in this regard, though
the play was difficult to enact as a play on the stage.
Pammal Sampan^tha MuthaliyAr
(ப.சம்பந்த முதலியார்) considered to be the doyen
of the Thamizh stage, wrote the famous play, ManOharA(மனோகரா), which later appeared as a film with
SivAji GanEsan (சிவாஜி கணேசன்) playing the
role of ManOharan.
Sampan^tha MuthaliyAr was the founder of the SuguNa VilAs Sabha (சுகுணவிலாஸசபா) which fostered the growth of the
Thamizh stage in the years to come.
Others who have made tremendous contributions to the Thamizh stage in recent times
include: NawAb rAjamAnickam (நவாப் ராஜமாணிக்கம்). T.K.S.
Brothers (டி.கே. எஸ. சகோதரர்கள்), R.S.ManOhar
(ஆர்.எஸ. மனோகர்). ChO rAmasAmi
(சோ ராமசாமி), K.A.ThangavElu
(கே.ஏ. தங்கவேலு), SivAji GanEsan
Shakespearean plays and Sanskrit dramas were translated into Thamizh and readers
interested in additional details would find a series of very interesting articles in
"The Heritage of the Thamizh people" published by the International Institute of
Thamizh Studies (1983).
The introduction of cinemas in the third decade of the twentieth century brought
about some remarkable changes in the field of n^Atakat thamizh. Though the stage is still
surviving with expositions of plays with mythological, social, historical or political
themes, the films are now dominating the scene. The film industry has become one of the
most powerful and influential industries in Thamizh n^Adu. Many estimates indicate that
more films are made in Thamizh n^Adu than in many parts of the world.
The growth of the film industry with reference to the literary contents has been
reviewed (திரை வளர்ந்த விதம்). In addition
to providing a huge industrial base and job opportunities to a large number of talented
artists, the film has become a very powerful medium for the propagation of social,
educational and political messages which the previous generations were unable to
accomplish. The free flowing literary prose style introduced by
(அறிஞர் அண்ணாதுரை) and
(கலைஞர் மு.கருணாநிதி), the brand of lyrics
(பாரதி தாசன்) and
(கண்ணதாசன்) aptly supported by
the histrionic talents of N.S. KrishNan (என்.எஸ.கிருஷணன்),
(மக்கள் திலகம் எம்.ஜி.ஆர்.)and
the musical expertise of
T.M. Soun^dararAjan(டி.எம். செளந்தரராஜன்)and
some of the more memorable milestones of the film industry.
In order to document properly all the actors, directors, musicians, and technicians who
have made significant contributions to the development of the film industry, it is
necessary to devote a book exclusively for the purpose. It is gratifying to note that
critical analyses of the literary style used in the mass media have been the subject of
several doctoral theses in many Indian and foreign universities (ArOkian^Athan, 1982).
advent of high technological innovations, the impact of western culture and the increase
in the migration of people from the rural to the urban centers are to a large extent
responsible for the radical changes in the format and content in the films one encounters
today. In the assimilation of these modern concepts, one would hope that our own cultural
identity which has survived for centuries upto this time is not surrendered.