|'Kothapalayam' Gurunatha Vathiyar|
“ You, men from the low caste
!, how dare you are sitting on the chair”
The rich man’s outcry woke up Gurunatha Vathiyar fro
m sleep. He told the touch-me- not thus:
“ Being rich and provider of f
ood to the poor, you may be respected as a God. You may even be revered as a ‘king’ to the surrounding eighteen villages. It may be true that the templ e car of your village will not move a step without your ‘div ine’ touch. But, what do you know about the art form Kootht hu ? ”
A chapter in the special issue
of the Tamil magazine Manal Veedu, admires thus the self respect of this veter an folk theatre artiste, who r ecently passed away at the rip e old age of 90.
“ I met Gurunatha Vathiyar for
the first time when I was a 1 4 year-old boy at the village Madhanaickenpatti. I observed the great folk artiste hold th e audience spellbound by his a stounding performance by donning the character of ‘Athi veera Vanniyan’ in the folk th eatre ‘Vanniyan Pirappu’ “ say s M. Harikrishnan, editor of the magazine Manal Veedu and director of Kalari Heritage and Charitable Trust.
It may be noted that Harikrish
nan was the pioneer to initiat e the mission of rescuing the folk art forms like Therukooth u and Tholpavai from extinctio n. A technician by profession in his village Erwadi after Sa lem, Hari interviewed numerous veterans in the traditional art forms and brought them to light by regularly publishing their interviews in Manal Veedu, which he has been editi ng since 2007. Besides, he and his friend Dhanapal have comp iled the interviews and brough t them into an exclusive book on the title Arunkoothu.
“ Gurunatha Vathiyar was an ag
riculturist, but a veteran wit h exceptional performing skill s in folk theatre. For the fir st time, when he watched a Koo ththu staged by another folk t heatre veteran Selavadai Konnavayan at the Da dhapuram Karattu Perumal Koyil , Gurunathan felt a Kooththu a rtiste in him too. From then o n, he became an ardent lover o f folk theatre and enjoyed watching it wherev er it was held. Finally, his z eal for the performing art bor e fruit, and for the first tim e, he donned the role of Arjun a in the folk theatre ‘Thropat hai Thuyil” informs Hari.
“ Gurunatha Vathiyar, who deve
loped the mythology of Vanniya Puranam to perform it in the folk theatre, was thorough in rendering his dialogues and fl uent in dancing. Do you know t he duration of Vanniya Puranam ?. Believe it or not, it is st aged as series for seven whole nights! “ sums up Hari.
Manalveedu - In nutshell
Link to my article in The New Indian Express http://epaper.newindianexpress.com/c/23998574