Sunday, March 23, 2014

Thiru Mogur Gajendra Moksham Utsavam

Thiru Mogur Lord displays three special Thiru Kolams on Maasi Magam
Gajendra Moksham Episode enacted
Mogur Aapthan, the Utsava processional deity of Thiru Mogur Divya Desam displayed three special Thiru Kolams on this festive full moon day in Maasi. 

During the 4km 10hour day long procession from Thiru Mogur to Yaanaimalai, he was seen in a Kallazhagar Thirukolam, stopping over at Kothandarama Temple at Othaikadai on the way.
As per the legend of Thiru Mogur, Lord Vishnu took the form of a ‘Mohini’ and used the lady charm to mesmerize the Asuras who lured by the beautiful maiden forgot their objective of securing the nectar, a sip of which would have given them immortality. 

Signifying this event, this place came to be referred to as Mohana Kshetram and this temple as Thiru ‘Mohur’. Taking the devotees back in time to the legend of this divya desam, the Lord of Thiru Mogur displayed his Mohini avataram at Yaanaimalai. Clad in a shining bright white vastram, the Lord went on a procession at 10pm to the four pillared Mandapa at the Northern Entrance where he was anointed with Thailakappu.
For the next three hours, the Bhattars of Thiru Mogur – Govindan Bhattar and Sridhar Tiruvoimozhi Pillai Bhattar – were bestowed with the honour of getting Mogur Aapthan ready for the third and the much awaited Thiru Kolam of the day. 

Gajendra Moksham Puranam
Just after 2am, the screens opened again and one could immediately recognize the effort of these two Bhattars. Lord Mogur Aapthan in a beautiful Green and Violet Vastram with a set of shining jewels across his chest and a glittering majestic crown on top made his way out carried by Garuda who himself was clad in a pure white dhoti with big sized colourful pathakams on his chest.
It was well past 230am and time for the enactment of the Gajendra Moksham episode, the big event of the day. The scene was well set - a 3feet tall wooden elephant and a 4feet long wooden crocodile had been placed on the temple tank with the crocodile clutching on to the right leg of the elephant. 

One could almost visualize Gajendra’s loud shout for help as tears rolled down the eyes of the devotees. Seated at the four pillar mandapa alongside the Lotus tank, Mogur Aapthan listened to the sweet 30minute recital of the Gajendra Moksham Puranam by Sridhar Bhattar, a descendent of Tiruvoimozhi Pillai. 

Following the recital of each verse, he explained the significance of this event and how Lord Narayana relieved Gajendra, who pleaded for the Lord’s support, and saved him from the clutches of the crocodile. Similarly, all those who offer their prayers sincerely to the Lord will also be protected by him and relieved of their troubles in life. 

Sridhar Bhattar has been reciting the Puranam for the last 28years at this temple on the full moon night in Maasi and his devotion to the Lord has not waned one bit in all these years as was seen here. 

 As he recited the stanza relating to Lord Narayana hurling his discus to kill the crocodile, a cracker bullet was shot at from near Mogur Aapthan that sped and struck the crocodile at a lightening pace, thus relieving the elephant from its clutches. Hundreds of devotees had happy tears in their eyes as they relived this historical episiode.
As the delighted devotees made their way back just after 3am, Mogur Aapthan too left Y. Narasingam on the Garuda Vahana and reached his abode at Thiru Mogur the next morning brining to end this annual Gajendra Moksham Utsavam.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ramji Srinivasan Badri Narayanan

Indian Sportsmen now have access to a world class High Performance Training Facility 
Former Mumbai Indians / Indian Cricket Team Fitness Trainer and US Mental Conditioning Coach join hands to set up 'Quantum Leap Performance' in Chennai
Mental Conditioning is about developing muscles in the brains!! - Badri 
In the summer of 2006, two well established Sports Training Professionals sat in a corner of a coffee shop in Madras to discuss their future. Both had already created a niche for themselves in their respective fields- one in the physical fitness space ( in cricket and racing) and the other as a mental conditioning coach in the US.

After 1000s of hours of telephonic and face to face conversations and deliberations over the last 8years, Ramji Srinivasan, former fitness trainer of the World Cup winning Indian Cricket team (and Mumbai Indians in the IPL) and Badri Narayanan, a Mental Conditioning Coach/Sports Psychologist (of several leading Tennis and sports professionals in the US) have finally taken the entrepreneurial plunge joining hands to found India’s first ‘Peak Physical and Mental Conditioning Training’ offering tailor made solutions for sportspeople under one roof.

Creating Legends in sports
In a country that has for long depended on prodigies for sporting success, Quantum Leap Performance (QLP) Pvt Ltd., has just launched its Sports Science and High Performance Training Centre in Abhirampuram, Chennai and Utah, US with the aim of ‘creating legends’ by developing and harnessing potential in individuals at the grass roots level and helping execute the plan with a process driven physical training and mental coaching methodology.

QLP will specialize in Peak Performance Training for Physical and Mental Conditioning for optimal performance and mental toughness for athletes of all ages and levels.

Ramji, who was the first Indian trainer to capture the imagination of cricketers, is of the view that Physical and Mental Conditioning Training is a misunderstood concept in India. ‘Physical Training has for long been looked at as ‘Gym workouts’ by most sportsmen in India.

Badri endorses this thought process ‘There were a lot of loose ends earlier. However, there is a paradigm shift now in the Indian sportsperson's attitude towards fitness- both physical and mental. The younger generation of athletes/players are now looking for training methods to attain peak fitness. And that’s the reason why we felt it is the right time to start.’

Mental Conditioning is a relatively new concept in India says Badri, who has been a Sports Psychologist in the US for the last 15years. People think it is psychiatry and shy away, avers Badri. It is actually about developing muscles in the brain!!!
Badri, who has trained and helped a number of budding sports professionals in the US clear mental obstacles in achieving peak performance, opines that while talent is aplenty in India, there is a need to eradicate a lot of ‘old belief systems’. There are countries without any infrastructural facilities and yet you find them winning medals in Olympics (Surinam in the 1988 Seoul Olympics was a prime case in point). Our aim is to make the teenagers mentally ‘sporting’ mature by the time they are in the late teens and then to make them peak by the time they are 23-24.

The QLP Process
As part of their offerings, Quantum Leap Performance has developed a system and process that is focused on understanding the current mindset of players, their body structure, their expectations and goals and the current challenges. QLP will then work with the individuals in goal setting and seek to enhance the true conviction inside them that will enable them in their quest towards achieving big results.

Mental Conditioning is an integral part of their offering as the two believe that, at any sporting event, it is as much mental as the physical ability that matters. It is important not to get bogged down mentally says Badri.
Ramji, who has been credited for the rehab of Sachin Tendulkar’s shoulder injury in 2006 says, ‘We are like Thumb Impressions. Every person who trains with us will have an individual coding. We will be adopting a problem solving approach harness the full potential of the sportsperson. Players need to be patient to achieve the best results. It is a process driven approach to success.’

Ramji was the fitness trainer when India won the World Cup and the Champions Trophy and jumped into No. 1 in Test and ODI rankings. He has also been personal trainer for Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, Rahul Dravid, Virat Kohli, Shikar Dhawan, in Cricket, Narain Karthikeyan, Arman Ibrahim, Aditya Patel and Karun Chandok in racing and Subramanian Raman in TT. 

It was Ramji's Rehab and fitness training for Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel and Sreesanth just before World T20 championship that proved to be a important turning point for India.

Few know that it was Ramji Srinivasan who first brought the Swiss Ball concept to India in the mid 90s. 
Interestingly and quite unlike most sporting launches, the two have chosen to launch without much of fanfare!! Reasons Ramji, ‘A lot of the time you find things being launched with lot of hype, only for the offering to be diluted over a period of time. We want to make the players understand the entire process and that this is a long term route to success.’

‘We believe with this approach, we will be able to help the player visualise success and take the right steps in that direction to prime physical and mental fitness’ says Badri echoing the sentiments of Ramji.

Service Offerings
QLP will offer physical training, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programmes) and Bio-Feedback Intervention.  After identifying and analysing the strengths and weaknesses of the players, the QLP team will come up an overall assessment of  the player’s potential based on which, they will formulate customised techniques with a defined and quantifiable outcome. As part of the engagement, the players will also have overseas exposure.

QLP's Services include Base Individual Training, Nutrition Programme, Physiological Assessment, Musculoskeletal Screening, Fitness testing, Pre-habilitation and Rehabilitation, Movement Analysis and Data Collection, Sports Conditioning Special, Recreational Sports Training and of course Mental Conditioning.

Included in the fitness regime will be Swiss Ball, Pilates, Thera Band, Speed, Power, Strength, Agility, Body Balance, Neuro-Muscular Coordination drills, Cardio vascular, local muscle endurance, circuits, threshold training, alactic training, aqua work, recovery and planning.

First of its kind equipment
Most of the equipments at the Chennai center of QLP are essential equipments used by world class achievers in sports but seen for the first time in the Indian sports scene.  These include Hand-Eye Co-ordination equipments, Cardio Equipments, Power Training Equipments, Speed Agility and Quickness (SAQ) Equipments, Strength Equipments, Balance and Co-ordination Equipments and Specialised Accessories.

QLP has tied up with Chennai headquartered The Pasta Bar Veneto, a chain of restaurants promoted by brothers Pramodh Sharma and Vinodh Sharma, to provide customised diet food to the trainees.

Number of Trainees
In the initial phase, QLP is targeting to restrict its trainees to 50-60.  Within 10days of the soft launch, QLP has already had an interesting mix of trainees. A 7year old Golfer who is seen to have big potential, has already signed up a long term engagement with QLP as have 9 and 13year old tennis players and a Chess star.  A 16year old Squash player is also looking to harness her talent at the QLP.

As many of these players are expected to travel extensively, QLP has, as part of its offering, an online LIVE session over the video with its trainees. The company will also launch soon an interactive ‘app’. The training programmes are designed for travelling athletes.

QLP has on board a leading nutrition, a physio, ‘strength and conditioning’ sports doctor, subject matter expert in bio mechanics, among other consultants.

37year old Badri, an alumni of REC Trichy and a certified mental conditioning coach in the US, who has been involved in training a number of highly successful players in Tennis, TT, Chess, Squash and cricket counts training sports personalities for certain specific qualities like becoming persistent, being courageous and ‘Going for it when fearful’, achieving discipline in practice and that translating in competition as his big moments in his sporting career.
Badri believes that the problem solving approach to training is a big differentiator with QLP. There will be a specific personalised solution for each individual based on our assessment and the player will be able to feel with the difference as part of our training process. ‘We think it is possible to provide quantifiable results. We will strive to constantly create the 'A ha' moment for players’.

QLP is targeting to organise four relevant problem solving workshops a year that provides solutions to the existing problems of players. The workshops will also include specific training for upcoming events and training for injury/re-hab and training in simulated real time scenarios.

Exchange Programme for Trainees
Chennai based Quantum Leap Performance is currently in talks with leading academies in the US to bring their players in Tennis, Racing and TT among other sports to train here for Chennai is considered one of the hardest places to train given its humidity levels and the dust. QLP is also working on exchange programmes for its trainees here at the Chennai Center to go abroad and train in the US as well.  

Financial Support to deserving players
For those with a weak financial background but with potential to make a name for themselves in sports, QLP will be open to funding and supporting them in their quest for excellence, especially those with the aim to achieve Olympic glory. 

As a parting remark, a visibly excited Ramji and Badri echo the same sentiment that it is a matter of trust that they will take care of their wards and deliver excellent results that will bring them players at various stages in their careers- those that have tasted success but are currently going through a rough phase and those that are seeking to achieve success for the first time. They believe that the onus is on the two of them to fulfil the expectations of the players and their parents, who these days are investing heavily on the sporting activities of their kids.

Mind and Body have to be synch to achieve the best results in sports. And it is apt that India’s renowned Physical Trainer in Cricket and the  US based multi-sport Mental Conditioner have come together in this venture to provide a first of its kind offering for Indian sportspersons.

TNCA and the cricketers?
Having seen their passion at work, it is clear that they have a vision to create the next generation of sporting stars from India and are in it for the long haul. Ramji's regime with the TN Ranji cricket team in 2007-08 saw the players going through two years of injury free engagement. He has also been the fitness trainer at the MRF. Ramji was also the trainer for Formula A1 Racing Indian Team for a period of five years from 2005. 

Individual players like Abhinav Mukund (who has seen success but is currently going through a lean patch) and the Aparjiths (who are in their early growth phase) of TN cricket will definitely find this relevant for their progress, especially the mental conditioning.

It will be useful for TNCA to explore the possibility of a long term engagement with QLP for the state players beginning at the U16 level given that mental conditioning has often been seen as one of the weak areas for TN cricketers.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Shenbagaramanallur Jagannathan Perumal Temple

An ancient 14th Century AD temple similar in size to Mannar Koil 
Exquisite Sculptures similar to Krishnapuram Temple
Located 10kms east of Nanguneri Thothadri Nathan Divya Desam in a remote village is the 14th Century AD Jagannathan Perumal Temple in Shenbaga Rama Nallur, a temple almost similar in size to the Mannar Koil near Ambasamudram and the Nambi Divya Desam in Thiru Kurungudi with huge outer walls, built during the Chera period.

The Story
The story goes that Chera King Udaya Marthanda Varma’s descendent (Shenbaga) Rama Varma built this temple. Having visited Lord Jagannathan at Puri, he was on his way back. With flash floods striking this region, he halted here for the night at this village.

It is believed that Puri Lord Jagannathan appeared in his dreams and directed him to build a similar temple here at this place. An invisible voice the next morning showed him the exact spot for building the Garuda Sannidhi and installed the East Facing idol of Jagannathan with Sri and Bhoo Devi with Dwarapalakas at the entrance.

A separate sannidhi for Shenbagavalli Nachiyar was also built South of Jagannatha Perumal Sannidhi.

In recognition of his contribution to the temple, one finds an idol of Shenbaga Rama Varma at the entrance.

There are several inscriptions inside the temple that date back to the 14th   century

Exquisite Sculpture
At the main Eastern entrance are artistic sculptures of Rathi and Manmatha, similar to the ones found at Krishnapuram temple, 13kms east of Tirunelveli (
It is believed that lot of grants were given to the temple in centuries gone by with over 130acres of land still in its possession.

Prarthana Sthalam
In the inner prakara is a Lakshmi Narayana Sannidhi. Belief is that lighting a ghee lamp on a lemon on Tuesday/Friday will fulfil one’s wishes. Thirumanjanam and Kalyana Utsavam is performed on special days at the special Mandapam erected on the Eastern side.

In the last 40years, Gopala Bhattar has been taking care of the temple all by himself without much of a salary. He has installed a bore well to improve the water facility at the temple. He has also installed new vahanas that carry the lord out on the grand processions in Thai.

Currently, two time pooja takes place at the temple every day.

The gopuram at the Eastern Entrance remains a Mottai Gopuram with the Chera King not being able to complete the Raja Gopuram.

10day Brahmotsavam Utsavam in Thai
Chitrai Thiruvonam Utsavam
Chitrai Pournami Utsavam

Quick Facts
Moolavar         : Jagannathan East Facing Standing Posture
Thayar             : Shenbagavalli Thayar
Time                : 630am-10am and 430pm-8pm
Contact                        : Gopalan Bhattar / Srinivasan Bhattar @ 94861 34755/87543 58489

How to reach

Ananthapuri Express stops at Nanguneri. From Nanguneri, an auto to the temple will cost Rs. 150-200. Also, share auto/share van run every hour. Bus ply every hour from Nanguneri towards Moolaikaripetti. One can get down at the Shenbagaramanallur junction – 2kms away- and take a local auto to the temple (Rs.50).

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

League cricket in Madras

Controversial End to Division Two matches

Two second division matches played last weekend have raised eyebrows here in the cricketing circles in Madras.

With MCC and Aruna CC on the same points going into the last round of league matches, both teams were eyeing for the 2nd promotion spot from 2nd to 1st division in the TNCA league. If both teams won their respective matches, the promotion was to be decided by NRR (Net Run Rate).

For the record, MCC crushed ICF by 12noon on Sunday. After bowling out ICF for 90 on a pitch that kept low, MCC scored the runs in 15overs. In the other match, batting first, Aruna scored 280 and then bowled out Parrys in the 2nd session for 170 (they had to restrict Parrys to around 200 to gain promotion into the 1st division).

Sources close to the match have raised doubts about ICF being bowled out so cheaply and so early on Sunday morning. It was argued that the ICF-MCC match ending early gave Aruna clarity on the run rate they had to maintain in beating Parrys. The Aruna-Parrys match went well into the 2nd session on Sunday evening. Sources have highlighted the fact that B Ramprakash, who has played cricket alongside PC Prakash years ago, and who has been a strong contributor for his team, did not bowl in the match. Sources also raised the issue of Parrys closing their innings before the fall of the 10th wicket. Sources even went to the extent of saying that it  was a 'well scripted Sunday Story'!!!

However, those who have played for many years (and for shorter duration) with PC clearly ruled out such a possibility saying that their personal experience of having played and interacted with him has been one of him playing cricket ‘straight’.

(The writer watched a match a week earlier when Mambalam Mosquitos, a team managed by PC beat India Cements run Egmore Club by under 20runs in a very close match with PC carrying drinks throughout the match during the hourly break and at the fall of a wicket. Such was his involvement in the match. He was in whites throughout the match as well a feature you don't see often these days among the young cricketers not playing in the XI).

A source who played for several years in the past for ICF ruled out any possibility of ICF giving away the match easily. He went to the extent of promising on his over 2decades of cricket (that has given him livelihood) that ICF would never do such a thing and that it was a natural course of play that ICF lost that match before lunch on Sunday.

MCC has filed a complaint with the TNCA the exact contents of which is not known. When contacted, Mr. Ajit, Secretary said that they have filed the complaint officially with the TNCA and that it would not be appropriate for him to make that public.

When contacted, PC Prakash said that he has been playing cricket for 40years and that cricket was a religion for him. He said that he had always played cricket ‘straight’ and that he never in his life resorted to or even intended to resort to such tactics. And that he would never do such a thing in his life in the future as well for he says he breathes cricket all the time. In fact, he said that his message to all the cricketers has been to 'give their best at all times and to fight it out in every game.'

One of the four umpires involved in the two games, who has seen ICF play over the last two decades said that there was no chance that they would have agreed to anything other than a normal game. The umpire, who has known PC Prakash for several years, also vouched that PC would never resort to such a thing and that it was a disgrace to even suggest this of a cricketer of his stature.

Interestingly, just over two decades ago, MCC went out of 1st division in controversial circumstances. Playing against Globe Trotters, MCC was bowled out for 50 on the first morning. By the end of the day, Globe Trotters led by a century from M Senthilnathan had built a lead of over 200.

When they arrived on the 2nd morning, Globe Trotters found that the pitch at Chepauk had been damaged. Sources say that it was clear to everyone there based on the shoe marks as to who had damaged the pitch. While Globe Trotters agreed to play on an alternate pitch, MCC initially refused. The story goes that a top official of the TNCA spoke with MCC officials about getting in sniffer dogs to investigate the cause and the rest is history!!! ( this was independently verified with multiple people who were present that day)

Globe Trottters declared the innings with the resumption of play on the alternate pitch and bowled out MCC a 2nd time around on day 2, a season that saw MCC relegated to division 2.

It is important for the TNCA to ensure the credibility of the league here in Madras. It is also important for this issue that has been circulating in the cricketing circles this week to be laid to rest with TNCA making the necessary enquiries about the two matches. 

Just two weeks ago, the writer heard a shocking story of a 15year old strike bowler being asked not to bowl because his team had to lose that match. It is shocking because 15year old players, still not out of school, now know first-hand and are discussing publicly about lower division matches being ‘set-up’.   

This is a big dampener on the credibility of the league and TNCA has to initiate action to restore that the matches are played fair and in line with the spirit of the game. 

PS: It was refreshing last year to see Dr. Natarajan calling the team that I captained for an enquiry because we went into a match at the end of the season with less than 10players. It is another story that we played with fewer players and won that match (with subsequent macro developments, that enquiry did not materialise).

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Perambalur Madanagopalan Temple

The only one of its kind Sannidhi for Pancha Pandavas
Located 1km south of the old bus stand in Perambalur is the 9th Century AD Madanagopalan temple, whose legend dates back to the Mahabaratha.
The Story
Vyakrama Rishi was cursed to turn to a Tiger (Puli) by an angry Agastya Rishi for having disobeyed his Guru’s orders. Pancha Pandavas came here during their year in incognito. It was then that the Bheema killed the Tiger with his mace to liberate the Vyakrama rishi from the curse.

In memory of this episode, there is an idol of Vyakrama Rishi inside the sanctum and a separate sannidhi for the Pandavas, the only one of its kind in Tamil Nadu. Since the rishi took the form of a huge Tiger (Puli) and was liberated here, the name of the place was ‘Perum Puliyur’ which in course of time became ‘Perambalur’. The Pandavas are believed to have performed Aradhana here at Vyakramapuram.

1000year old Inscriptions
On the pillars of Maha Mandapa, a 12th Century AD inscription relating to the rule of the Pandyas refers to the Thiru Mandapam as Veera Bayankaran Thiru Mandapam.
Celebration of Festivals in 13th Century AD
A 1258AD inscription on the South wall refers to the commencement of a festival and the grant of a grand umbrella for the Lord on the occasion of the birthday of Sundarapandyan Sadayavarma I. A 1268AD inscription on the North wall of the Artha Mandapa relating to Sundarapandyan Sadayavarma I indicates the renovation of a dilapidated land and providing 12veli land to celebrate a grand festival on the occasion of his birthday on Bharani Star.  A year later, in 1269AD, an inscription on the North wall of the Maha Mandapa refers to the Pandya King providing a12veli land on the occasion of the birthday of his sister.

Donations to the temple by the Nayaks
A 15th Century AD inscription on the North West wall refers to a donation of a land to the temple by chieftain of Thimmayappa Nayak. In the 16th Century AD, Krishnappa Nayak donated the Nochiyam village as grant to the temple as per an inscription on the South wall.

10day Brahmotsvam in Panguni
Krishna Jayanthi
Vaikunta Ekadesi
Special Alankara on Puratasi Saturdays

There are several Vahanas here at this temple and an ancient chariot (Chariot Festival on Panguni Uthiram).

Quick Facts
Moolavar          : Madanagopalan East Facing Standing Posture
Thayar              : Maragadavalli Thayar
Time                 : 630am-12noon and 530pm-830pm
Contact             : Pattabhiraman Bhattar@ 97906 31103

How to reach
Perambalur is about 275kms from Madras on the Trichy NH. By train, one can get Ariyalur Railway station and take a bus to Perambalur (25kms). From Trichy, Perambalur is 55kms.

Auto from Perambalur New Bus Stand will cost Rs. 40. Share autos every 10minutes between new and old bus stand.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Kathadi Ramamurthy

Indian Economy, Indian Economy is the Best Economy…
A look at the man who made this phrase a memorable one in the 1980s
In 1953, an innocent young 15year old boy who had just completed his Class X exam at Banadurai High School in Kumbakonam made his way by train to Madras to pursue his higher education (PU + college) at the Vivekananda College in Mylapore.

60years later, the young boy still has lost none of that innocence. And he remains a simple at heart and Humble to the core. Just that in these 6decades, Sundaresan 'Kathadi' Ramamurthy has become a household name not just here in Madras but the world over and achieved so much in the drama field that most others can only dream of.

Crazy Mohan compliments the man ‘If its drama, Thy name is Kathadi Dramamurthy’ (Read Interview below).

When Kathadi Ramamurthy came here to Madras in the summer of 1953, he had no inkling of what was to follow in the coming decades. His uncle (R Raghunathan of The Hindu) had almost ordered him to come to Madras to pursue his studies.

The first big milestone in his long six decade association in the theatre field came in his first year at Vivekananda College. In late 1953, there was a call from the college for participation in the annual drama. Ramamurthy along with Jaishankar, Ambi (Cho’s brother), Narayanaswamy, AN Radhakrishnan and PN Kumar (the last two played lady characters) became part of this drama troupe.

As part of the annual day drama in 1954, 15year old Ramamurthy played Pakiri, the villain’s assistant in Devan’s Gomathiyin Kathalan. During the four years at college, this team also presented Miss Janaki, Mr. Vedanthan and Sriman Sudarshanam. Their favourite hangout every evening was at Nageswara Rao Park and Guptas States Hotel where Drama was the only topic of discussion!!

At the end of that decade, Ramamurthy approached Natesan Iyer, the then secretary of RR Sabha for an opportunity. It was co-incidence that Bageerathan, a renowned writer of the time, was also present there chatting with Natesan Iyer on a book – Thenmozhiyal- that he had just written. Natesan Iyer asked Ramamurthy if his troupe could convert the book into a drama. Kathadi approached radio announcer Koothapiran (later a popular Tamil cricket commentator on AIR) to dramatise this book. It was a drama that also Cho debut. Ramamurthy played the role of Pannaiyar’s assistant and a drunkard, a role that received positive feedback from the audience.
 Launches Own Drama Production
In October 1965, Kathadi launched his own production house - ‘Stage Creation’- with Shivaji Chaturvedi, TD Sundararajan and Bobby Raghunathan. Kathadi has an interesting story to narrate on the search for the first script. They were scratching their heads one evening over dinner in a restaurant (the current Balaji Bhavan) in Pondy Bazaar when Aravalli Easwaran suggested contacting Kothandaraman of The Hindu who at that time was a well know situation comedy writer.

Kathadi called Kothandaraman who greeted him as ‘Kasi’ (a role that he had played in Sambavani Yuge Yuge), something that brought cheer to Kathadi as it once again gave him the confidence that people were taking notice of him. Kathadi liked the script that Kothandaraman shared and his troupe presented ‘Inai Illa Jodi’ at Mylapore Fine Arts. Since then, over the last 5decades, Stage Creation has presented around 40 plays including Goodbye to Love, Idayam Pesigirathu, Sambuvin Mainthu and Odipona Kanavan.

Kathadi introduces Visu / Delhi Ganesan
It was Kathadi who introduced Visu in a directorial role in Dowri Kalyanam Vaibhogame (Delhi Ganesan too was made his debut in this). Over the next decade, the two worked together in successful plays such as Siruthu Kondu Azhugirom, Satyavan vs Savitri and Pattina Pravesam.

Big Compliment from KB
KB (K Balachandar) watched Pattina Pravesam it four times, coming back with Premalaya R Venkatraman and then with actor Asokan.  35years later, Kathadi, who played the role of ‘Dhandapani’, still treasures KB’s comments after watching the drama ‘Only in Cinema this happens. You go and watch a movie again and again and everything is the same. I have watched the drama four times and each time, every single scene from start to finish has been played out absolutely in the same way. Never before have I seen such a thing happening in a drama.’

KB adapted this play in the movie by the same name (popular for the Vaa Nila Nila song) in 1977 using several of the artistes of the troupe. (Delhi) Ganesan was introduced in this movie. Kathadi did the same role in the movie as in the drama that of ‘Innocent Dhandapani’ who is used for smuggling. He ranks this as his favourite role in movies.

Into Movies - 1967
A decade earlier, Kathadi acted in the first of his 75movies. It was a chance meeting at the house of Madras Sisters (Dancers) at the current Residency Hotel building that landed Kathadi a cine role. Madras Sisters acted in his dramas and Kathadi used their T. Nagar house for rehearsals. Their father introduced Kathadi to P Madhavan who offered him a role in Penne Nee Vaazhga in 1967. He stuck to only small roles in movies for he could not take off from office (Jensen Nicholson) for long. In many movies, he played the friend of Jaishankar. A few of his favourite movies include Keezhvaanam Sivakkum, Pattikada Pattanama, Pattinapravesam and Niraikoodam.

The Turning Point of his life
The turning point of Kathadi’s life came when he was introduced to Crazy Mohan in the late 1970s through Bobby Raghunathan (See below for full details).

In the Crazy Mohan scripted Ayya Amma Ammamma that was telecast on Doordarshan in 1982 (Crazy Mohan had scripted this in 1978 as Pathi Patni Aur Ma), ‘Kathadi Ramamurthy’ played the role of Raghupathy, the ‘obedient’ 34year old husband burning the midnight oil to brush up his economics, as instructed by his wife who is keen to drive him towards promotion at office

Kathadi made this character memorable with his innocent depiction of Raghupathy and an extra ordinary dialogue delivery of Crazy Mohan’s beautifully crafted script – playing an irresponsible bachelor in the first part and then of one losing his complete freedom after marriage caught between the wife and the mother.

This drama was a big turning point in Kathadi’s career, one that made him a household name in just three weeks (The serial was televised as a 3part drama).  To this day, Ayya Amma Ammamma and ‘Raghupathy’ remains audience’s all time favourite.

The dialogues delivered by Raghupathy became a craze of the 1980s with ‘Indian Economy is the best Economy’, his treatment of Manager Jagannathan, the cook ‘Iyengar’, his description of Podalangai Sambar and Tailor Baba Rao’s stitching his loose pant becoming part of dinner table discussions at home. Kathadi refers to his role of Raghupathy ‘as his most appreciated role’ worldwide, one that brought him fame not just here in Madras but where ever he went including the US.

How is the Indian Economy, Sir?
Once while in the US, a person came up to him and asked him as to how the Indian Economy was faring. Kathadi in his typical innocent style told the person about a possible case of mistaken identity and that he had nothing to do with the current state of the Indian Economy and that he was there in the US to meet his daughters. Kathadi was thrilled to hear an unexpected response ‘Raghupathy Sir, I am a big fan of yours and was referring to your Ayya Amma Ammamma dialogue.’

Kathadi as the Detective Sambu
The other big moment of his drama career came when Sambu Nataraja Iyer called him one evening for a meeting and informed him about his plans to revive Thuppariyum Sambu and the choice of Kathadi for the title role. Kathadi was lost for words that evening at the enormous confidence reposed in him.

During the inauguration of the play, Nataraja Iyer joked ‘I have nothing to lose really. Either way, I will be praised for this decision. If Kathadi does a good job, I will be praised for the selection. If he does a poor job, people will praise me saying that no one can match Nataraja Iyer.’

He came back after the play and patted Kathadi on the back with the words ‘you have played it much better than I did. I am proud of you’. Those were unforgettable words of praise for Kathadi, one he still cherishes.

Kathadi’s nephew acted as Sambu’s son in that play. Interestingly, years later, his nephew’s son acted as Sambu’s son while Kathadi continued to play the role of Sambu, a role that he had by then made his very own.

School days in Kumbakonam
Kathadi had an early initiation into drama watching his father, S. Sundaresan, a manager at the Muncipal Office in Kumbakonam perform as an amateur artiste at the renowned Vani Vilas Sabha. During that decade he would watch every drama his father acted in. He also began to perform small roles in school dramas. Many times, it was at his house that his Banadurai School mates rehearsed prior to the dramas that they presented.

With the passing of every decade, Kathadi has continued to show the same kind of passion in staging plays that he did as a school/college student. ‘I did not do plays for monetary benefits. Applause from the audience meant everything for us.’

Kathadi lauds the role of his wife Meenakshi whom he married in 1966. He says ‘I did not know anything about my two daughters for a long time. As an artist, I was blessed to have such a good wife. While I was shuttling between my office work and drama, day in day out, it was my wife who took great care of my daughters and brought them up all by herself.’

Kathadi has staged 40dramas /presented 6500 drama shows on stage. ‘Dowri Kalyanam’ and ‘Honeymoon Couple’ have been staged 350times. He is a recipient of the Kalaimamani Award, Nataka Kala Sironmani Award, Nadiga Choodamani, Best TV Serial Comedian Award and Nataka Rathnam Award, among several other prestigious awards.

Despite all these achievements, accolades and awards, Kathadi remains humble. He says we used to breathe plays. All our evening and late night discussions centered on the next play and trying to making the audience enjoy it. 

Kathadi may be 75+ and well into his 6th decade as a theatre artiste but his passion for acting hasn’t waned one bit. He continues to keep himself busy and is often seen shuttling between rehearsals for his play and shooting for TV serials. He says pursuing his passion at this age gives him a lot of positive energy and that is one of the reasons he is still mentally and physically fit. Also, he remains a simpleton with no airs about all his achievements. The almirahs in his house are full of awards he has received. He says he recently had a big fight with his wife on where to keep these. His wife had the final world and allocated a room just for his awards as there was no more space in the hall.

And as a parting remark, he says ‘like in Ayya Amma Ammamma, ‘I had to concede here as well to the wife and act as per her direction’.

He is relieved that she does not want him to study economics anymore!!!

The Name Kathadi
Ramamurthy has a hearty laugh when asked if his kite like lean physique (that could be blown away any moment) was the reason for the name Kathadi. Settling back on his seat and trying his best to control his giggle, he reveals ‘That’s what most people have come to think. It actually had nothing to do with my physique.’

He recounts the story that goes back in time to the early 1960s when Cho wanted to direct ‘If I get it’ (Ennidam Kidaithal), Ramamurthy (that was his name for the first 20+years of his life!!!) suggested that this be done by his troupe ‘Viveka Fine Arts’. He contacted Rajagopal of Mylapore Fine Arts for help only to be told ‘You are all Nellikai Mootai’. Rajagopal referred to the dispersed group and wondered if such a group could co-ordinate and bring out a successful drama.

He somehow managed to convince Rajagopal and the drama, in which Jaishankar too was introduced, turned out to be a big success at the Mylapore Fine Arts.

In ‘If I get it’ Ramamurthy played the role of ‘Kathadi’, a cartoonist. His performance was so commendable that people who met him over the next few days and weeks started addressing him as Kathadi. Also, people who saw him on road went on to remark ‘Anga paaruda, Kathadi poraar’. He initially felt very embarrassed and shared his discomfort with Sambu Nataraja Iyer who on hearing this told him that this was actually a great compliment from the audience and that he should add it before his name.

‘There may be many Ramamurthys but there is only one Kathadi.’

 ‘When it comes to drama, Thy name is Kathadi Dramamurthy – A ‘Steyn’less Delivery’ – Crazy Mohan

Crazy Mohan was groping for success in those early days (he was still in his 20s). He says Kathadi gave it to him on a silver plate with his outstanding dialogue delivery in Ayya Amma Ammamma. He says that without doubt it was Kathadi who taught him writing (and his brother Balaji acting).

This coming from a man who had already scripted a great success for himself with his Crazy Thieves in Palavakkam in 1976 is a great compliment to Kathadi’s contribution to the theatre world in the last 6decades.

Crazy Mohan wrote three stories for Kathadi - Honeymoon Couple, Here is Kasi and Ayya Amma Ammamma (this was staged as a play ‘Pathi, Patni Aur Ma’ in the late 70s) with the last becoming a sensational hit.  ‘I got introduced to Kathadi through my neighbour Bobby Raghunathan. Kathadi wanted me to write a poignant story for a middle aged man!!! I had to think of a family story when I had to write something for him.’

‘He beat everyone’s expectation as Raghupathy. His dialogue delivery was truly outstanding. In cricketing parlance (since you are a cricketer), it was a Steynless delivery in AAA. He had dialogues in almost every scene and there was supposed to be a lot of strain on him. But he carried the story effortlessly. Kathadi gave colour and real life to my dialogues.’

Those days he would do 25shows a month of Honeymoon Couple and Ayya Amma Ammamma.

Crazy Mohan goes on ‘in the early part of my career, Kathadi was my ‘go to man’ in terms of scripts. I used to show every script to him and in no time, he would get back to me with the edits. He was my Script Editor. Since I was occupied with office work (Crazy Mohan worked in Sundaram Clayton- his first and last job), Kathadi even used to play my role as an actor in my plays. He was instrumental in the development of my troupe.’

‘Looking back, Kathadi was my Gateway to success in the world of theatre.  He taught me first to crawl and later to walk on stage. It was he who helped me raise the bar in my script writing. Truth told Kathadi made me fly high.’

Crazy Mohan also shares a historical connection with Kathadi’s family. ‘Kathadi’s father Shri Sundaresan and my grandfather used to present plays at Vani Vilas Sabha in Kumbakonam. This I came to only much later.

To me, he is an icon of Kumbakonam alongside the great Ramanujam.

‘In the 35years that I have seen him, he has never got affected by success or failure. He is a true karma yogi. He is very meticulous, sincere and disciplined. After 50years of staging plays, success has still not gone to his head. Even today, he gets a standing ovation when he comes on stage. He is ageless.’

When it comes to drama, Thy name is Kathadi DRamamurthy