Kalaivanar & T A Mathuram

Kalaivanar N S Krishnan's drama days

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NSK took to acting as fish takes to water. One wonders whether the artiste's passion for acting or the art's longing for the artiste signalled the tremendous success of Krishnan. His father Sudalaimuthu enrolled him in the Original Boys Company which was the beginning of his career as a dramatist. 1924 transformed Krishnan the Man to N S Krishnan the artiste - and he enthralled the audience for 33 years.

Boys Company was so called because young boys donned the role of women, as women did not take to stage in those days.

From being a fan down stage now he became the entertainer on stage. He stayed with the Original Boys Company only for a short time. He joined the TKS brothers who were renowned for their drama in those days.

On the very first day itself TK Shanmugam was impressed by NS Krishnan's inate interest in drama. TK Shanmugam had taught a devotional song to the new comers and asked them to practice while he went away for some time. On returning he was surprised to see Krishnan teaching the song to others. Upon enquiry, Krishnan answered that he had listened with rapt attention to the songs while he sold aerated drinks in the make shift auditorium. With great joy TK Shanmugam gave the responsibility of teaching the song to the new comers to Krishnan henceforth. It was unthinkable to become a teacher in a reputed drama company on the very first day itself. Nothing succeeds like success - seemed to be especially true for N S Krishnan.

His first play was Kovalan, in which he played the role of Pandian Nedunchezian. From then on there was no turning back.

Still from the movie Rangoon Radha Kalaivanar with Nadaswara legend Karaikuruchi Arunachalam

Plays used to be staged for only 12 days in a month. On other days he actively took part in all the games and his winning spree extended to this area too. After staging 6 plays in Trivandrum the troupe now moved to Nagercoil. Oluginasery being his native place his friends and well wishers decided to appreciate and hounour him with a function. On that particular day Kovalan was staged. In those days Seiku Thambi Pavalar who was known as a walking encyclopedia of Tamil language and literature after witnessing the play said that "One day not only Nanjilnadu but entire Tamil Nadu is going to be made proud by the glory of Krishna". How true his words have become today!

Even though he has tasted success quickly he considered himself to be a learner through out. Once in Puthukottai, Krishnan was given practice to sing a song by T K Sankaran even after repeated training he missed the beat of the song. Irritated Sankaran pinched him hard on his thigh. Unable to bear the pain he started crying as he sang the song. When others laughed at him, he replied that there was no reason to laugh as probably Sankaran had had the same experience before and he (Krishnan) was going to beat many learners before they learnt the song. He tided over his embarrassment in a very clever manner.

Krishnan's popularity increased many fold among audience. As days went by the audience looked upon him with a lot of love and respect. An interesting incident which shows the rapport he had with the audience is when the play Manohara was staged. According to the script, he had to beaten by an actor but the people thought he was being beaten truly and protested so much that the play could not continue. Only after krishnan's appeal to the audience that they were merely acting, was the play allowed to continue.

It is in Karaikudi that Krishnan had a breakthrough as a comedian. Noticing his sense of humour in him T K Shanmugam had encouraged Krishnan to byheart the dialogues of M R Swaminathan the comedian of their troupe. So when the unexpected happened - that is when Swaminathan and his sister Meenakshi deserted the company, Krishnan was the unanimous choice for the position. He justified the decision of the company by acting well and was appreciated by one and all that he was offered the various roles of Swaminathan was the natural consequence of this success.

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