The 82-year-old veteran thespian who was pivotal in nurturing an alternative Tamil theatre movement in the state passed away due to age-related ailments.

Renowned playwright and theatre artist Na Muthuswamy of Koothu-p-pattarai fame no moreTwitter
news Obituary Wednesday, October 24, 2018 - 13:40

Renowned playwright and theatre artist Na Muthuswamy, artistic director of Koothu-p-pattarai, the professional, experimental Tamil theatre group, passed away in Chennai on Wednesday. The 82-year-old veteran thespian who was pivotal in nurturing an alternative Tamil theatre movement passed away due to age-related ailments.

Muthuswamy was awarded the Padma Shri in 2012 and the Sangit Natak Akademi Award in 1999. He gained prominence in 1969 with ‘Kalam Kalamaga’ a play that has been regarded as one of very first modern plays in Tamil.

Muthuswamy who was born in Punjai moved to Chennai, then Madras, in the late 1950s. He then founded Koothu-p-pattarai in 1977 and by 1987, it began functioning as a full-time Tamil theatre repertory. Between 2000 and 2007, Koothu-p-pattarai was identified by UNESCO as one among the five learning centres for theatre.

Muthuswamy studied Theru-k-Koothu for about eight years and his passion for reviving Tamil traditional folk arts began here.

Koothu-p-pattarai has over 60 major Tamil theatrical productions to its credit, some of which are England (1989), Nallaval (2001), Panchali Sabatham (2004), Six Characters in Search of an Author (2005) and Tenali Raman (1999 and 2008).

In an interview with The Hindu, Muthuswamy looked back on his journey, noting that it has not been without difficulties.

“Looking back, the road has been full of difficulties. But I’ve done what I wanted to do. Creative people are influenced by different things at different points in their lives. And so it was with me. The short stories I wrote were appreciated and so were my plays. For 30 years, we have trained actors, not an easy activity to sustain,” he was quoted as saying.

As someone who has trained many prominent names in the industry like Vijay Sethupathi, Vimal, Pasupathi, and more, Muthuswamy made his first film appearance in 2008 in the film Vaazhththukkal, starring Madhavan and Bhavana, and directed by Seeman. 

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