Madhuvanthi Arun and her group of dancers made ‘Tamizh' come alive on stage.
When the language of a people is amongst the oldest in the world, their culture and identities remain intrinsically connected to the fabric of time; it often absorbs the changes without losing its identity. To capture snapshots of this indefinite process of evolution was the idea behind ‘Tamizh,' a multimedia theatre presentation held in Tiruchi.
Choreographed, directed and performed by Madhuvanthi Arun and her group of dancers, ‘Tamizh' unfolded on a stage adorned by just two mutually exclusive pieces - giant replicas of the thali kayiru, that marks a married Tamil woman, complete with a piece of turmeric, on one side and a tele-screen bordered by kolam motifs.
With effective use of lighting, the stage came alive and the performers portrayed the multifaceted culture that Tamils have inherited through the centuries.
A kaleidoscope of select songs were depicted through Bharatanatyam and folk dance that often engaged in real time with audio-visuals onscreen.
Preceded by educational voiceovers on the concurrent progression of language, society and hence culture, each piece was dedicated to facets such as Tamil literature (religious or otherwise), ideas of hero worship, social life, arts and crafts.
Religious music in films
Beginning with songs such as ‘Sange Muzhangu,' ‘Tamizhukum Amudhendru Paer,' ‘Vazhkaiyenum Odam' and ‘Velli Pani Malayin,' the show progressed to religious music in films such as ‘Solla Solla Inikudhada,' ‘Aarupadai Veedu Konda' and ‘Muthaitharu.'
The first section ended with ‘Pennaga Pirandhavarku,' the Kannadasan song, performed solo by Madhuvanthi. Depicting a mother singing to her baby girl, an expressive Madhuvanthi mimed the words that coaxed the child to sleep while she still could. , Moving on to a variety of performances peppered with poignant solos, delicate duets and enjoyable group pieces, the section on the social life of the Tamils touched upon ideas such as societal divisions, love, marriage, and the monsoon. The final section on arts and crafts delved into sculpture, architecture, metal work, pottery, vocal music, puppetry, the Devadaasi tradition, turning Bharatanatyam into a universal art form by Rukmini Arundale and finally the advent of the dance form in mainstream cinema.
Drawing the curtains on the show was the performance of ‘Thamizha Thamizha' by the entire group, consisting of Narendra Kumar, Shanmugam, Janani and Madhuvanthi. ‘Tamizh,' a joint-conception, was scripted by Arun Rao, while Madhuvanthi Arun choreographed and directed the show. The video clips were managed by Harshavardhanan, the make-up by Kalai, the costume by Dhanalakshmi and the lighting and audio-visual by Chetta Ravi.