(Last Updated on : 30-03-2012)
Purisai Natesa Thambiran was a famous Terukkuttu
artist. He was from the village Purisai in Tiruvannamalai district
. Purisai is a village that has become synonymous with the form. He was trained by his father, Raghava Thambiran, and joined in his prime by his cousin, Kannappa Thambiran, who heads the family troupe after his death. Although the Thambirans have performed Terukkuttu for at least 150 years, the form won its place on the national cultural map only during Natesa's lifetime. Village elders recall the sheer force and vigour of the characterizations, which set the standard for succeeding generations of actors and raised the status of Purisais Terukkuttu as distinct from varieties in other districts of Tamil Nadu
Natesa Thambiran won legendary fame for his portrayals of evil characters from the epics and Puranas
, like Kichaka, Dussasana, and Hiranyakasipu, stretching their ferocity to extremes of imagination and possibilities. He breathed fire from his mouth, burst crackers to jolt the audience, and compelled them to rivet their eyes on his literally explosive entrances. He lost his fingers in one such explosion early in life, yet continued to perform. His unique style and individual talent for dramatic expression, the grunting and strutting on stage that spread terror, the presence that unleashed extraordinary force, endowed him with a lustre in whose shining glory Purisai basked. Kamala Devi Chattopadhyaya
spotted his talent and encouraged him to cross the confines of his village. He is reputed to have given over 6000 performances.
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