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Scripting moral dramas has been his life's passion

"Humorous dialogues must carry a message for the public"



Koothabiran

He began his career as an announcer at All-India RadioThen he graduated to telling stories for young children, a creative engagement that lasted several years. In fact, in the 1970s, he was better known by his title `Vaanoli Anna', which meant a lot for a generation of youngsters.

Not merely satisfied with story telling, he started scripting moral dramas. So far, he has written over 800 plays for children. Telling stories and scripting stage dramas is his lifelong passion, says Koothabiran in conversation with M.J Prabhu.

Only children can create a solid foundation for a good and moral society. It is they who are going to manage the world tomorrow.

This may seem to be an oft-repeated quote, but Mr. Koothabiran's words are backed by a strong conviction.

Modern technology is not helping children. "They are happy to chat on the Internet and communicate over the phone. Result is that they have lost the zeal to play. There is very little community bonding among present-day children."

Having acted in over 4,000 plays, mostly with family and domestic themes, Mr. Koothabiran feels family-based subjects always receive a good response. His son and grandson are acting with him in his plays.

He feels that Tamil dramas should carry a message. Entertainment and humour have their place, but plays must aim higher. Witty dialogues can make a person laugh, but if they carry a message "then it is worth the effort."

Why has he concentrated on family issues? A society is a collection of families.

"All the issues can crop up in a family. Are there no quarrels, love, misunderstandings in a family set up? Only these issues reflect the society".

On whether stage dramas are dying a slow death, he says:

"Stage plays cannot die. Today's cinema is an extension of stage dramas. Outstanding film actors across the globe have mostly been groomed through stage plays".

Asked if stage plays are attracting crowds, Koothabiran says that every drama has its share of audience.

Whether it is Cho's drama or R.S. Manohar's mythological plays, every stage artiste has his own share of audience.

He rejects the argument that television and cable TV have weaned away audience from plays.

"When I staged the Tamil play `Narayana Gopala' in Tiruchi, the audience gave a standing ovation to a particular scene."

Koothabiram believes in rehearsals. "However talented an actor, rehearsal always refines him further. Due to unforeseen circumstances extempore dialogues are added but these are exceptions."

Quoting the famous Tamil film and stage actor of yesteryears, T.K.S. Bhagavathy, he says: "People should encourage good dramas and writers should create good dramas."

As long as good dramas are staged they will continue to draw people.

In a career spanning five-decades, Koothabiran has received several awards, including the State Government's Kalimamani Award (2003) and the Nataka Kala Sironmany from the Music Academy.

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