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1981
Indian Othellos: Shakespeare Adaptations in India
  • ISSN: 2059-0660
  • E-ISSN: 2059-0679

Abstract

Pammal Campanta Mutaliyār (1873–1964) is generally regarded as the ‘father of the modern Tamil theatre’. In this article I examine how Pammal’s non-mythological and non-Shakespearean dramas – that is, what he termed his ‘social dramas’ – were woven into different domains and constituencies that saw themselves as agents for social change. I argue that his engagement with projects of civic and social reform ran parallel to his ideas about the aesthetic reform of the Tamil drama itself. Beginning in the first decade of the twentieth century, Pammal’s dramas self-consciously attempt to rid themselves of what Pammal understands as the aesthetic excesses of the Parsi-inflected Tamil theatre, including its densely musical nature and its increasingly mixed-gender cast. (1928), a drama that deals with reform, perhaps best exemplifies the simultaneity and intertwined nature of Pammal’s programmes. It was composed on the eve of reformer Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy’s earliest legal interventions towards the abolishment of lifestyles and is a deeply self-reflexive work. Not only does it stage well-established tropes about reform, but it deploys the idiom of Pammal’s new vision of the modern Tamil theatre – bereft of its musical temperament and performed exclusively by men – to do so.

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2021-08-01
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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): devadāsī; drama; Pammal Sambanda Mudaliar; social reform; Tamil Nadu; theatre
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