Indira Parthasarathy

Ranganathan Parthasarathy whose pen name is Indira Parthasarathy is a Tamil author born in Kumbakonam, Tanjavur district, in 1930. With a master`s degree in Tamil from Annamalai University, he secured a teaching job in a Delhi school and settled there, going on to become a university professor there. In the 1980s, he taught at the University of Warsaw, Poland. His literary oeuvre that includes, novels, short stories and plays, generally revolves around life in Delhi, examining the mores and values of its Tamil middle class. He obliged the Dakshin Bharat Nataka Sabha, Delhi, by writing his first play, Mazhai in 1972. This was the first modern Tamil play staged by a Delhi group. He followed it up with Aurangzeb in 1973, which characterized the Mughal emperor differently from history textbooks, and Nandan Kathai in 1978, reinterpreting the story of an untouchable farmhand thirsting for the darshan of Siva in a temple forbidden to him. 

This was an eternal favourite of poets and dramatists since the eighth century, with several stage and screen incarnations in Parthasarathy`s own lifetime. His version is significant in the contemporary political context of Dalit resurgence. Parthasarathy also wrote Kala Iyantirankal in 1977 and Porvaiportiya Udalkal in 1978. He founded the Sankaradas Swamigal School of Performing Arts at Pondicherry University, and became its Director, resuscitating a moribund Tamil theatre with adaptations of the Cilappatikaram and Shakespeare`s King Lear. He then composed the highly acclaimed play Ramanujar in 1996, on the eleventh-century reformer, philosopher, and founder of the Vaishnava school of Vishishtadvaitam. Nandan Kathai, directed by R. Raju in 1997, was perhaps the best production of any of his plays. Some of his works have been staged in Hindi by troupes in Delhi and Lucknow as well, often before they were performed in Tamil.

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