(Last Updated on : 13/02/2012)
Dramatists and Playwrights in Tamil Literature
have composed various literary and poetic works that have become the soul of Tamil
plays and drama. During the early part of the 20th century, Cankaratas Cuvamikal authored several plays and went all over the Tamil country in order to educate and guide people in performing arts and conducting plays. Some of his students and followers have gained much popularity in the field of Indian drama and theatre. Most of the plays by Cankaratas Cuvamikal were inspired by the puranic tales and they portrayed certain ethical principles. According to the traditions of that era, the Tamil plays were composed in verse form combined with prose. The synopsis of a verse would be repeated in prose. The poems and hymns were composed in compliance with the already the established grammatical rules. The passages of the prose flourished in lengthy sentences. The actors had to be competent, skilled and learned enough to memorise both the poetic and prose passages in order to repeat them on the stage and perform.
Cankaratas Cuvamikal used dramas with Puranic and Bhakti and themes as instruments to fascinate and enthrall the minds of the viewers. The works of Lavakuca and Pavalakkoti belonged to the category of puranic plays whereas Ciruttontar and Pirakalatan were Bhakti plays. Cankaratas established himself as one of the greatest playwrights in terms of speed and by composing the Apimanyu drama in a single night. The work comprised of more than one hundred verses. He had written a total of forty plays. Some of his plays, such as Catianacuya, Caticulocana and Apitnanyucuntari were published after his death. The plays of Cankaratas Cuvamikal were composed following the traditional stage conventions of that period. His plays promulgated the ancient and traditional values and morals. Ideas from ethical works such as Nalatiyar and Tirukkural
were liberally used in his plays. Several of his plays focused on the subject matters like the greatness of Bhakti and chastity of women.
Ilatcumana Pillai, who was a scholar in Tamil music, composed many plays like Ravivarma and Vila Natakam. The collection of his verses is entitled Ceyyut Kovai. In the year 1891, Pammal Campanta Mudaliar inaugurated the first dramatic society in Madras, called Cukunavilaca Sabha. Later in the year 1893, Campanta Mudaliar composed and staged the first social Tamil drama named Puspavalli. He authored more than 90 original plays and also translated various other plays from English and Sanskrit
into Tamil literature. Some of his most prominent and noteworthy plays include Vetala Ulakam, Kalvar Talaivan, Irantu Nanparkal, Manokara and Iratnavali.
A professor of Tamil in a college in Madras (now Chennai
) known as Curiyanarayana Sastiriyar worked for the progression and improvement of the Tamil drama during the beginning of this century. Nataka Iyal, meaning Rules of Drama, narrates the fundamental concepts of Tamil drama. Curiyanarayana Sastiriyar composed some original plays as well, such as Manavijayam, Rupavati and Kalavati. Maraimalai Atikal translated the Sanskrit drama Sakuntala into Tamil. He also authored an original Tamil play based on the life of Ampikapati, the son of the popular Tamil poet Kambar
(Kampan or Kampar).
A number of plays were translated into Tamil from the European languages. Some of the Tamil authors also composed plays inspired by the stories of western plays, as an alternative of translating them.