(Last Updated on : 29-01-2009)
Indira Parthasarathy was a Tamil author. He was born in Kumbakonam, Thanjavur district in 1930. He obtained a master's degree in Tamil from Annamalai University. Soon after, he got a teaching job in a Delhi college and settled there. Indira Parthasarathy was there till the 1980s. After that he left to teach at the University of Warsaw, Poland. Consequently, his literary world revolves round life in Delhi, examining the mores and values of its Tamil middle class. He saw Ebrahim Alkazi
at work, but in the 1960s was not particularly interested in theatre until a Tamil group in Delhi, the Dakshin Bharat Nataka Sabha, approached him to write a script for them because of his penchant, as a novelist, for unfolding his fiction in the form of dialogues.
Ranganathan Parthasarathy whose pen name was Indira Parthasarathy obliged the Dakshin Bharat Nataka Sabha with Mazhai or 'Rain' in 1972. This was the first modern Tamil play staged by a Delhi group. It was a depressing account of the uncomfortable relationship between parents and offspring, characters interestingly far removed from the hypocritical world one saw in Parthasarathy's award-winning fiction. He followed it up with Aurangzeb in 1973. This one characterized the emperor differently from history textbooks, and Nandan kathai i.e. 'The Legend of Nandan' in 1978, reinterpreting the story of an untouchable farmhand thirsting for the darshan of Siva in a temple forbidden to him.
This was an eternal favourite of poets and dramatists since the eighth century, with several stage and screen incarnations in Parthasarathy's own lifetime. His version of the latter highlights its significance in the contemporary political context of Dalit resurgence. Parthasarathy also wrote Kala iyantirankal or 'Time Machines' in 1977 and Porvaiportiya udalkal i.e. 'Bodies Wrapped under Blankets' in 1978. He founded the Sankaradas Swamigal School of Performing Arts, Pondicherry University, and became its Director, resuscitating the moribund Tamil theatre with adaptations of the Cilappatikaram and Shakespeare's King Lear. He then composed the highly acclaimed drama Ramanujar in 1996, on the eleventh-century reformer, philosopher, and founder of the Vaishnava school of Vishishtadvaitam. Nandan kathai, directed by R. Raju in 1997, was perhaps the best production of any of his plays. Some of his works have been staged in Hindi by troupes in Delhi and Lucknow as well.