B.V.Sundararajan Traces The History of ‘Ram Nagar Dramatic Society’

Father of our nation Mahatma Gandhi had rightly said, ‘A customer is an important visitor in our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him.’ Similarly, readers are more important for newspapers as their feedback, suggestions and interesting info are a real value to publishing houses.
And Kovai Metro recognises its readers in its columns. Here B.V.Sundararajan, who is an ardent reader of the neighbourhood weekly ‘Kovai Metro’ was kind enough to share some interesting info connected with his family while also talking about the Ramnagar Dramatic Society. The octogenarian was born to B.S.Venkatasubramaniam aka Rajamani and Namagiri. He studied at the Brahmin Extension Higher Elementary School and later at the Gokulanatha Hindu Mahajana School in Salem. An Intermediate from Salem was followed by a Diploma in Automobile Engineering at Bengaluru.
Sundararajan lived along with his happy joint family at Sarojini Street in Ramnagar. The family had a bus transport company those days. It was known as Pakshirajan Transports. It was named after the vehicle of Lord Vishnu. Their bus used to ply from Coimbatore to Sathyamangalam and while Rajamani was the driver, his younger brother Viswanatha Iyer functioned as the conductor. The viability of ‘one bus’ companies had been in question and therefore they expanded the fleet to four buses. It was therefore possible to have a workshop because of a bigger number. The bus seats had been similar to train seats. Petrol scarcity bogged the operations. The buses were run on coal. These plants used in buses were got from Simpson and TVS. “About 7 or 8 of us will push the bus and it would run slowly thereafter,” recalled Sundararajan.
The senior citizen had worked in TVS Madurai for a while and continues to cherish his family consisting of his brother Rajagopal, cousin Ramamurthy and sister Suseela (Ammalu). Their family had also owned an automobile spares shop – Pakshirajan Automobiles. It was located on Avinashi Road (opposite to UMS). Thereafter they diversified into other areas. A few petrol pumps were run by the family. One was the ‘Pakshirajan Petrol Pump’ on Jail Road. They had one earlier at Sathyamangalam (SVOC – Standard Vacuum Oil Company). S.R.Pillai was the Sales Officer of the petroleum company and he encouraged the Pakshirajan family to take over a pump that had gotten into bad ways. Their goodwill had helped them to get this oppourtunity. Sundararajan remembers talking to auto rickshaw drivers on quality and is happy to state that his managers Balasubramaniam, Haritheertan had done a good job.
Sundararajan remembers his days when Nanco Mani and others were his friends. They had played cricket and were part of the ‘Jolly Brothers’ team. Coimbatore has blessed with several cricket teams at one time and the youngsters took up to the game quite earnestly. “My uncle B.S.Krishnamurthy was the wicket keeper and had played matches in places like Mettur. He used to keep a ‘Vazhai Mattai’ inside his cap. Uncle was well known to G.K.Devarajulu and G.K.Sundaram of Lakshmi Mills. In fact he had the privilege of being treated at the ‘Raja Room’ in the Kuppuswamy Naidu Hospital. He was nicknamed ‘Bisco’ and was a member of couple of clubs – Cosmopolitan Club in Coimbatore, Lawley Institute in Ooty and Cosmopolitan in Chennai. Our buses were managed by father, the family was looked into by uncle Viswanatha Iyer and finances were managed by B.S.Krishnamurthy. G.K.Sundaram had been of help through my uncle,” added Sundararajan.
The youngsters used to play tennis at the YMCA Tennis Courts and would draw the lines all by themselves. Popular advocate K.N.V.Ramani and P.K.Dorai, the son of Dr.Kalyanaraman had been the classmates of Sundararajan. He still remembers friends like Venkatesan (Auditor), Nanco Mani and a few others catching up in the fuel pump every evening. Sundararajan also spoke about the venture CST – Coimbatore Salem Transport. It was a larger bus venture and his family had been associated with the same along with a number of others. They had to quit the bus business about 50 years ago. Most of them had been nationalized by the Government of Tamilnadu. He still recalls the story of the arrest of his brother Rajagopal, who was an Ananda Marghi.
Saraswathi and Sundararajan tied the knot and were blessed like looking twins – Lakshmi and Sowmya. The girls had been shy to go by bus and therefore he let them take the car to Avinashilingam University. It was on an assurance that the girls should only put the car to college use. The car number was MDS 4666 and it had based on their phone number. He was happy to talk about his family unity and about advocate Kothandaraman of Ramnagar. Sundararajan spoke about G.D.Naidu and his bus operations. The halcyon days of bus services by the private sector was recalled by him in a memorable manner. Buses had added to the mobility of the villagers and had helped Coimbatore to evolve into an economic powerhouse.
Sundararajan and his friends had founded the ‘Ramnagar Dramatic Society’. The youngsters had wanted to be active and this led to the formation of an ‘all boys’ drama club. Sundararajan was into stage management and would sing too. Sarathy had been the writer and Kothandaraman was also a singer. Chandru, B.V.Ramamurthy etc., were also part of the club. One day, they invited the famous drama man R.S.Manohar to watch their play ‘Seetha Kalyanam’. R.S.Manohar had been showing his famous drama ‘Lankeswaran’ in the Jail Auditorium. Many of the ladies of Ramnagar were under the impression that the drama ‘Seetha Kalyanam’ was based on mythology but it was not. It was about the marriage of one character Seetha. All the ladies of Ramnagar were given flowers that day. Therefore a few of them got miffed. The activities of the society had waned out over time. A few got married, some got into far away jobs. The activities got signed off due to these various factors. The audience for the activities of Sundararajan and his friends were mostly from Ramnagar.
The senior businessman leads a retired life in Coimbatore. He spoke about the good old times when people used to identity one another on the streets. He feels that now this has been replaced by a crowded and fast life.
He continues to cherish his old joint family days and has kept a number of old photos with him. The group photo with R.S.Manohar continues to be treasured by him. He recalled R.S. Manohar with the name ‘Lankeswaran’. Sundararajan was full of joy while pointing out the people in the group picture with R. S. Manohar. He added that R. S. Manohar and his plays in Coimbatore were top in the list of the citizens those days.
People are sure to remember the various efforts by a number of amateur and professional people who promoted plays in Coimbatore. Sundararajan was humble by stating that they just ran the society for the purpose of getting their time used properly. However it must have been quite an effort to prepare the story, script, do the rehearsals and enact the play. Stage decorations and the public address system coupled with music etc., must have been quite a task.
Satisfying the audience must have been an altogether different matter. The narration of Sundararajan help us to understand that the society had been successful financially. The Ramnagar Dramatic Society was one of the few among similar organisations them. Interestingly the society had given its surplus to needy kids who were keen to pursue their studies.
—Rajesh Govindarajulu

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