“I started my career as a field worker near Ramanathapuram district. I would watch many midnight sound and light shows during festivals. I always wanted to perform in them.
In the hands of extreme poverty, I had to do all sorts of jobs to make ends meet: labour, work at tea stalls, whatnot. My parents passed away when I was very young. Since I was born into a Scheduled Caste, I was not given proper education. This led me to do jobs which involved my physical effort. At one point, I started to work as a day laborer under a building contractor. During this period, I would watch stage shows held through various festivals. I learnt the skill of the traditional "thappu" (a flat drum made from cow skin) from my native friends. As time passed, I requested them to call me for professional performances wherever they went; they did and I slowly learnt the art. As we traveled in troops, we had a lot of spare time. The shows began after nightfall. In that free time, I learnt to use other instruments as well. Incidentally, I joined a dance group at the same time, so whenever they wanted a performance, I left my labour work and went ahead and performed. Since there were many instruments involved, replacements were required at times, and I got the opportunity to play other instruments as well. This was really the breaking point of my life.
My favourite instrument is the rare "Perum Parai"; it is relatively bigger than the other instruments. Since I had a knowledge of all these instruments, I wanted to make them on my own and start making some money so that I could manage my family of three children: two sons and a daughter.
I moved to Chennai, because all the materials required for the instruments were available at different places, different states, and from all parts of south India. And also, Chennai market was comparatively big. Ramanathapuram was small town and couldn’t get a good price and there were too many sellers there already. So Chennai was the place, and I moved here. Though I left Ramanathapuram, I still have phone contacts with a lot of friends there and they call me when they are in need of shows.