Three from Tiruchi bag Kalaimamani awards

Theatre artistes T. N. Mangalam and K. S. Krishnappa and Upanyasam exponent Tiruchi K. Kalyanaraman, hailing from Tiruchi, are among the Kalaimamani awardees announced by the State government on Friday.

While Mr. Krishnappa receives the award for 2019, Ms. Mangalam and Mr. Kalyanaraman have been conferred the award for 2020.

The artistes began their careers in Tiruchi and continue to be active in the scene even after 50 years of experience. T.N. Mangalam, of Mangalam Kalai Kuzhu in the city, began acting at the young age of 11 in Meensurutti, her hometown. She had eight older siblings and took to acting as her parents were unable to make ends meet, she said.

“My first pay was ₹25. It helped the family and soon I gained interest and moved to Tiruchi when I was 16,” she recalls.

In the city, she has lent her voice and has performed in over 7,000 several shows. She has also performed abroad with the support of fine arts colleges and acted in supporting roles in two Tamil films. She is also a lifetime member of the South Indian Artistes’ Association. Various awards and recognition have been conferred upon her including the Kalai Nanmani award. As a 72-year-old, she has now taken on a new role as a make-up artist for Bharatanatyam dancers.

On the personal front, Ms. Mangalam is married to V. Natarajan, also a member of Mangalam Kalai Kuzhu, and has two sons. “We did everything we could to educate our boys. Due to financial constraints, we were unable to, but they have created a good life for themselves”" Mr. Natarajan said.

K. S. Krishnappa, a 72-year-old artiste from Manapparai, Tiruchi, continues to act even at his age with K.S. Krishnappa Nadaga Kuzhu. “I will do so till I have strength in my body,” he told The Hindu.

He began acting as an 18-year-old because of his father, who also took part in street plays. “My father allowed me to play minor roles in his plays. At 18, I decided to pursue it as a profession,” he said.

The artiste has performed in over 10,000 shows including on streets and in large halls. “My family is fully involved in the arts. I married an actor, and my children are trained in theatre too,” he said.

Mr. Krishnappa says that while COVID-19 almost ruined their profession, the faith in the arts keeps them afloat. “We have begun performing a few shows over the last month. We hope that with the support of the government, we will be able to take part in many more.”

Both Ms. Mangalam and Mr. Krishnappa will receive the award from Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on Saturday.

Born and raised in Srirangam, veteran Upanyasam exponent Mr. Kalyanaraman began giving discourses on various chapters of the Ramayana as a student of Srirangam Boys High School. “At 20, I decided to take it up as a mission. I believe that through discourses of the religious texts, I will be able to impart values into the lives of the youth of today. Teaching discipline, honesty and obedience through the texts is my goal,” he said

Mr. Kalyanaraman undertook a year-long yagna of the Ramayana discourse in Madurai in 2013 and then in Tirunelveli in 2016. He now resides at Virugambakkam in Chennai.

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