October 18, 2015
A baggy costume; closely-cut hair, and a not-so-well-trimmed beard first meet the eyes, but this clown has a yearning soul. This clown is different from others – he treats all the problems as his own. This clown is going to worry if the roads are not laid properly; if people are conned; if the culture is eroding; if people are ignoring their roots; if they disrespect each other; and if nature is being destroyed. Not to mention, if his vehicle runs out of gas. This clown doesn’t stop at just worrying, he takes these issues up in the land of the theatre.
Murugaboopathy of the Manalmagudi Nadaka Nilam, one of Tamil Nadu’s most successful and award-winning playwrights, has made modern theatre and the clown as his distinct style. He was recently here in Coimbatore to stage his recent play, ‘Mayakomaligalin Jaalakannandi,’ on Saturday.
In an exclusive interview with the Covai Post, Murugaboopathy talks about his journey with theatre and the importance of his characters in the society.
Hailing from a family with rich literary heritage, Murugaboopathy started his career as an actor and performed in more than 150 villages with the Safdar Hashmi Drama Troupe. However, he admits that his first inspiration was a bunch of circus girls who stayed near his house while he was in Class VIII. “Since I was a kid, I used to go to the circus tent with them for rehearsals. I was inspired by the usage of properties by the performers. They use different properties for different stunts,” he reminisces.
He was also greatly influenced by the Narikuravas and the clowns. Both these characters still find important places in his plays. “I think Narikuravas brought modernity and innovation to the civilization. Every time I see them, they sell something new. They introduce new culture to the society, yet they remain firmly rooted to their culture and lifestyle,” he explains.
However, Murugaboopathy’s love for the Clown was clearly seen with his statement, “The Clown is immortal. Every character in a play will fade over a period of time, but the clown will remain. He withstands the test of time and can fit into any time and era. He can raise his voice against current issues with responsibility and courage. He will be beaten up by the authority and mocked by the society. Yet, he will keep addressing the issues that plague the masses.”
He further adds that the clown bridges the gap between people. “A clown has no relationship with people. He has no bloodline, but he relates to the issues faced by the people and that is what makes him immortal,” explains the playwright.
Discussing political and social issues openly in his plays, Murugaboopathy declares that an artist is the only responsible person to address the issues of the society. “Nobody else is worthy enough to address the situation,” says the man who has staged about ten plays all over India.
A winner of the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar, given by the Sangeet Natak Academy, Murugaboopathy feels that the artist is disturbed by everything that is happening in the society. “The plays are the outcome of my inability to contain myself after watching the issues. Hence, I try to address them through my plays,” he says.
About the new era of modern theatre, Murugaboopathy admits that he is observing a new culture of audience who relate themselves with the artistes and the issues discussed. He says that over the years, he had observed the culture emerge from the womenfolk. “I see more girls among the audience, and, since my plays also portray emergence of women in the society, the audience almost see themselves in my characters and gives good response. After all, their problems are being discussed on the stage,” he says.
“The Indian woman still wants to break out of her shell and I try to release her through my plays and my wish is that the playing field extends to the space where the artist is able to use even the space as a property in the plays,” adds the dramatist who still feels that the success of the artist should also be measured by the impact that he has on the society.