Muthuswamy moved to what was then Madras in 1977 and established Koothu-p-pattarai. Within the next decade, the group became a force to be reckoned with in the theatre landscape. Accolades poured in from all quarters for each production and many starry-eyed, aspiring actors saw a chance to be under the tutelage of Muthuswamy to be their ticket to hone their craft from a master of the arts.
Muthuswamy himself grew a passion for theatre after he learnt the art of theru koothu for eight years. The tryst encouraged him to pursue and incorporate traditional Tamil folk art forms in later life. Koothu-p-pattarai’s productions combined modern themes with traditional art forms and martial arts to create a truly avant garde experience.
Muthuswamy won the Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 1999 and the Padma Shri in 2012. Stars such as Vijay Sethupathi, Vimal, Guru Somasundaram and Pasupathy credit Muthuswamy’s influence and tutelage to be the force behind their skills. His plays Kalam Kalaimamani, England, Appavum Pillayum and Six Characters in Search of an Author are considered modern classics in Tamil theatre.
Many from Kollywood joined the theatre world in expressing their grief over his demise. Vishal posted that he was saddened by the loss of their ‘demi-god’ and that he still remembered his days with Muthuswamy before entering the film industry. Vijay Sethupathi took to Twitter to share that he was deeply disturbed that his mentor was no more. Actor-politician Kamal Haasan released a video offering his condolences.