Life in Theatre for Pammal Vijayaranga Sambandha Mudaliar
Much impressed, he turned to theatre seriously. His ambition to do similar reformist theatre in Tamil languagegoaded him to start the amateur Suguna Vilasa Sabha the following year. He staged the first social drama, Pushpavalli in 1893, and adapted English and Sanskrit languageplays. These received with much enthusiasm. Educated people turned their attention to the potential of theatre. Some even joined the Sabha and began acting. It became a centre of great moral and educational value. Songs were given a back seat, prose gained significance, and realistic acting was stressed. Mudaliar changed stage conventions, creating new sets and scenery that surprised viewers. T. P. Krishnaswamy Pavalar, hailed as a great teacher of Tamil drama, was a product of the Sabha. After retiring as a judge, Mudaliar continued acting for it.
Plays by Pammal Vijayaranga Sambandha Mudaliar
Pammal Vijayaranga Sambandha Mudaliar wrote ninety-four plays. All of these were premiered by Suguna Vilasa Sabha, in many of which he acted the lead. Subsequently, other sabhas or groups produced their own versions. His Lilavati-Sulochana i.e. 'Lilavati and Sulochana' in 1895, Manoham which was published in 1907, Amaladitya i.e. Shakespeare's Hamlet that published in 1908, Makapati i.e. Shakespeare's Macbeth, published in 1910, and Sabhapati that published in 1918 were the first Tamil plays in prose dialogue while others still performed Puranic musicals. He gave equal importance to narrative and aesthetics in drama. He composed scripts that could be performed within three hours, a revolutionary concept when Tamil productions normally took twice that time. Quite a few were cinematized later, such as Yayati in 1908, Ratnavali was adapted from Harsha in 1910, and the originals mentioned above. He was also the only person of his generation to voluminously record his experiences and views, which document the theatre history of that period. He left behind six volumes of stage memoirs and a handbook for actors.
Mudaliar's productions brought to the forefront the dignity of theatre as a profession and dealt with actors as respectable citizens. Eminent personalities patronized his shows. He was responsible for earning theatre a legitimate space in the cultural activity of Tamil Nadu. Following his footsteps, high-placed officials formed their own sabhas, literate youth were drawn to theatre, and many district sabhas began. His troupe toured the districts as well as Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Ceylon, Burma, Malaya, and Singapore, making expatriate Tamils interested in theatre. Pammal Vijayaranga Sambandha Mudaliar died in the year 1964.
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