Shri Bavaani Amman Therukkoothu Nataka Manram, Kanchipuram, presented Alamugasooran Samhaaram, an unusual story of Arjuna being helped by Draupadi, who takes on the Kali avatara to kill the asura. The show was organized on Sunday last as part of the Mahakumbabhishekam festival at Shri Thiruveedi Amman Temple, Medavakkam. Despite there being no infrastructure, no mike and no stage, the presentation under the spotlights in the temple courtyard, was riveting. The part-time musicians and actors, 17 in all, took on multiple roles and were masterly in their timing and delivery.

Therukoothu employs classical Carnatic ragas. That evening, melody from the mukhaveena, a smaller version of the nagaswaram, was a give away as strains of Anandabhairavi, Yadukulakhambodi, etc., sounded familiar; the singing, however, was high-pitched and less tuneful. It was interesting to note that the language of the main characters and that of the songs was chaste Tamil, while the kattiyakkaran spoke in local slang. The humor was slapstick, sometimes sadistic and sometimes crass, but it served to keep the audience in rapt attention from 10.45 p.m.-6.30 a.m.

Therukoothu employs classical Carnatic ragas.
Photo: M. Karunakaran

It was interesting to note that the language of the main characters and that of the songs was chaste Tamil, while the kattiyakkaran spoke in local slang.
Photo: M. Karunakaran

A therukoothu performer getting ready in Chennai
Photo: M. Karunakaran

Audience enjoying Alamugaasooran Samhaaram at Medavakkam.
Photo: M. Karunakaran

The part-time musicians and actors, 17 in all, took on multiple roles and were masterly in their timing and delivery.
Photo: M. Karunakaran

A therukoothu player.
Photo: M. Karunakaran

A therukoothu player.
Photo: M. Karunakaran

Despite there being no infrastructure, no mike and no stage, the presentation under the spotlights in the temple courtyard, was riveting.
Photo: M. Karunakaran

Credits: Kesavan (Alamugasooran), Rose (Dharma), Jeyabalan (Bhima), Manikandan (Arjuna, Amrithavalli), Jeyakumar (Kattiyakaran, Narada, Krishna), Balu (Draupadi, Kali), Chidambaram (Nakula, Amrithavalli’s friend), Sukumar (Kattiyakaran, Amrithavalli’s friend), mukhaveena (Murugan), Ragupati (harmonium) and Mani (mridangam). Special mention for the enthusiastic, 13-year old Regan (Below left), who played Sahadeva and Amrithavalli’s friend. He joined the group four years ago when in the fifth standard because he was so taken up with Therukkoothu.

This article originally appeared in TheHindu on June 27, 2018, and has been reposted with permission.

This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.