Kamal Hassan is keen to pursue Tamil theatre. I learn that from a source close to the actor, who also took this picture of the star today at his home.
Tamil theatre is kept alive by a few dedicated actors and companies such as ‘Crazy’ Mohan and his Crazy Creations; S.V.Sekar is also active in comedy theatre. The histrionic element to theatre and and spectacular productions have been fading away after the passing of R.S.Manohar . Sivaji Ganesan brought his talent displayed on the stage to cinema later, but that removed a major impetus for the evolution of Tamil theatre.
Which is what bothers Kamal. He said today to a small group of people who called on him that if media houses were ready to support a “Tamil theatre festival,” he would gladly join them. Kamal offered to put up a performance of a historical play, “Lankeswaran.”
‘Crazy’ Mohan has also been keen to build up Tamil theatre with a modernisation of production with investment in stage, lighting and other aspects that contribute to vibrant theatre in all countries.
Kamal made pointed references to Broadway in his discussion with the visitors and wondered why Tamil stage could not evolve into something equally strong and sophisticated. If people were ready to join him, he would lead a delegation to the Government asking for land to build a permanent theatre, he said.
That is an inspiring thought. Similar permanent venues are found in important cities such as Washington DC, New York City, London, Berlin and Los Angeles. If the Dravidian movement had a long-term cultural vision, it would have invested in that sort of edifice long ago. But the leaders pitched very low and were satisfied with a cinema theatre in Chennai’s Government Estate.
That is of course the product of an era of small-thinking individuals. Now, we are upon an era of economic renaissance, we are told, and that must unfold in the realm of culture too. What better way to celebrate it than by giving shape to Kamal Hassan’s vision of building a culture complex that can host the best of Tamil literature and culture, giving opportunity for a plurality of voices to express themselves in music, arts and theatre?
Assuming that such a complex was grand, and yet not intimidating, many among the illiterate masses born in this State (and who have remained that way despite voting consistently for the Dravidian movement), would be able to appreciate the virtues of liberalism.
The very construction of such a complex could derive lessons from the works of someone like Laurie Baker, who, I am sure, Kamal would approve of for his authentic, earth-loving and proletarian style, qualities that the actor brings to many of his sensitive roles (including the forthcoming Dasavatharam).