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Elections rejuvenate otherwise dying folk arts

Monday 10 April 2006, by RAGUNATHAN*A.V.

The artists will have a hectic schedule till elections are over

CUDDALORE: Come elections, the folk artists get a new lease of life. They would have a hectic schedule till the election process is over.

They are inducted the moment the elections are announced, and made part of the campaign.

During the period these artists would travel widely to drum up support for their political leaders.

During normal time, these artists are confined to the rural areas.

In such events, they have got limited audience: whereas, the elections give them a vast exposure and a bigger audience even in the urban centres. The troupes, therefore, acquire new set of dresses and musical instruments for the campaign.

The folk artists are versatile enough: they could play on percussion and wind instruments such as para and flute, dance, act and sing. They would enact the skits highlighting the respective party ideology.

They mostly find the free verse form a convenient tool to convey the message crisply to the audience.

In fact, they are reviving the classical form of "Theru koothu" or "Street plays" with a difference: in ancient days these had episodes from the Epics as the central theme, but nowadays these are suitably modified to take up secular ideas.

Ideal link

The artists thereby serve as a link between the people and the party.

The artists, mostly professionals, are assisted by the partymen having histrionic talents.

The political parties engage them on contract basis, and besides the contracted amount, the artists are likely to get contributions from the audience as well.

The gatherings equally enjoy the folk arts as they do the dance choreographed to cine music. Karagattam, oyilattam and mayilattam are thus getting encouraged, thereby nurturing these art forms from possible extinction.

All the leading parties such as the AIADMK, DMK, PMK and the DPI have their own troupes to propagate the message. Though the assignment is somewhat gruelling, as they have to perform day and night with little rest, they enjoy the regimen.

For the artists, recognition is more important than the pay packet.

The poll campaign gives them ample opportunity to interact with various sections of the public that in turn boost their professional chances, at later dates, thus rejuvenating the otherwise dying arts.

See online : The Hindu

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