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Tamil Artists Trying to Revive 'Theru Koothu' in Bid to Preserve Traditional Art of Street Play

Image used for representation. (Credit: news18 Tamil)

Image used for representation. (Credit: news18 Tamil)

Coronavirus hit the artists pretty bad last year and Tamil Arasu's troupe is no different. Usually, post-March, the bookings to perform at temples increase but due to the lockdown, there was nothing for the troupe to do.

Age-old traditional art forms have time and again been challenged by the wave of newer forms of music and dance and Theru Koothu, a Tamil street theatre style that has been in existence since hundreds of years is also similarly staring at extinction.

The popularity of other forms of entertainment such as movies has now rendered Theru Koothu as dying. But then, often individuals have tried to go out of their way to revive their much loved craft and hold on to the embers of the art a little more. This is exactly what a group of men hailing from Mookuner Pudur in Tirupathur district have been aiming to do.

Dressed up in cakey-makeup and colourful dresses, and some even decked up as female characters, these men have been performing since many years and are trying to keep alive a tradition that is slowly being forgotten. They also teach the art forms to aspirants without a fee, The Hindu reported.

S Tamil Arasu, a 37-year-old teacher of the group Theru Koothu troupe works at a construction site and on other times, performs with the troupe.

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Arasu reportedly told The Hindu that they are often called by political parties to perform mythological plays of Mahabharatha, Ramayana, Kanda Puranam, Shiva Puranam and others. He has been teaching students the art since the past 18 years without charging a single rupee.

Tamil Arasu says that a total of eight people take part in the act and they get Rs 1,000 each for the play. Saving half of it, the remaining amount is used to pay stipends to students who learn with them.

Coronavirus hit the artists pretty bad last year and Tamil Arasu's troupe is no different. Usually, post-March, the bookings to perform at temples increase but due to the lockdown, there was nothing for the troupe to do.

The government's decreasing patronage to traditional art forms has affected the lives of these artists.Tamil Arasu is still hopeful that assistance in some form or the other will come through and the much loved art form manages to not just stay afloat, but thrive like before as there is a much bigger need to conserve them in the wake of keeping one's culture alive.