Monday, 31 August 2015

Its all about art


“My name is Manickam, I have another name…BAASHAA…” – The music plays and whistles blow all around…

This is one of Rajinikanth’s several famous dialogues that can set the silver screen on fire even today. 

This is the story of a man who is all to set to work for the Superstar's upcoming blockbuster ‘Kabali’.

He is not an actor with any screen presence…he is someone who is always behind the screens & not many know about his story. 

Meet Ramalingam - the art director….Oh wait! He has another name - Thangavel Ramalingam.

What Ramalingam has been doing silently is something outstanding. He is on a mission to revive one of the oldest art forms in Tamil Nadu known as ‘Therukuthu’ – Folk drama.   

Hailing from a lesser known village called Peravur in Villipuram district, Ramalingam has served as an Art director in 10 Tamil films.

From ‘Attaikathhi’, ‘Vadacurry’ to ‘Madras – Ramalingam, has several achievements to flaunt in the Tamil film industry circles but what makes him proud is the fact that he has been instrumental in reviving the age old art of ‘Therukuthu’ in his village.

Interacting with 'Kabali' Director Pa. Ranjith, a close friend & a colleague 
Peravur village once known as the hub of Tamil folk art has now vanished from the art map of India. Hailing from a family that was into folk art for generations together, Ramalingam, a student from the Government Fine Arts College in Chennai forayed into the world of cinema. Today, he has got a golden opportunity of working with one of the legends of Tamil cinema Superstar Rajnikanth - a chance that many in the industry long for.  

But for Ramalingam, street play has been his passion and first love. He says “today the purest form of folk art is vanishing.”  He has revived his family run ‘Sri Muthalamman Nadaga Sabah’ a street folk art troupe named after his community god.  Inspired by his father Thangavel, who was a veteran folk artist…Ramalingam’s aim is to create awareness among the youth on the rich heritage of dramas.

Many in his Peravur village have quit performing on the streets as they consider that performing folk art on the streets demeaning. Ramalingam however, wants to prove them wrong and send across a message that it’s not something to be ashamed of. It is an art form which is his identity and more than that - his pride.

"After entering into the Tamil film industry I have become quite famous in my village and all I want to do is use my popularity to give a new lease of life for ‘Therukuthu’," says Ramalingam.

Ramalingam, has been quite successful in his endeavor. After the re-launch of his troupe ‘Sri Muthalamman Nadaga Sabha’ has been getting huge response in and around his village circle - so much so that a new troupe is getting ready to compete with his team.

Muthuperumal is an advocate  
With Northern Tamil Nadu being gripped by caste politics and clashes, the youth seem to be getting drawn towards divisive politics. "I want them to focus on enhancing their skills…I want them to focus on education and folk art - all of which is our culture, tradition and identity," says Ramalingam.

2 months ago when he first performed on the streets after several years, Ramalingam couldn’t control his emotions. It was a ‘dream come true’ moment for him. He says, “I consider this the biggest achievement in my life. Even bigger than being identified as an art director.”

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