All hell breaks loose, literally, as Chitragupta makes a miscalculation and ends the life of Sundaramurthy, an out of work software engineer, before his time is up. Sundaramurthy decides to make the best of his sojourn in Yamaloka, and computerises the world of the celestials, much to the chagrin of Yama.
United Visuals’ ‘IPL Kudumbam,’ staged at the Mylapore Fine Arts, on the inaugural day (September 6) of Parthasarathi Swami Sabha’s drama festival, shows the pervasiveness of technology. So is the play about how our lives are at the mercy of computers and cell phones? No, it is not. The play mocks the political system in India, where dynastic rule militates against the very concept of democracy. It has a dig at coalition politics, where the junior partners in the coalition are treated shoddily. So is the play about politics? No, it is not.
Sundaramurthy and his family find the punishments meted out to sinners in hell abhorrent. Sundaramurthy finds the explanation of a person’s suffering on earth as due to his Karma, unconvincing. He and his family fire a volley of questions at the celestial team of Yama, Chitragupta and Brahma. Sundaramurthy wants to know why children suffer in this world, when Vidhura Neethi says that children under the age of ten are sinless. So is the play about philosophical concerns? Not really.
No new thread
What then is the thread that runs through the play? There is actually no thematic thread that runs through the play. The actors are let down by the weak script, which offers them little scope to use their talents. However, mention must be made of the performance of Brahma (Kettavaram Cheenu), whose smile was not the usual pasted smile of Gods we see in films and plays. He was an animated Brahma, not one with a wooden expression. T.V. Varadharajen as Sundaramurthy and Usha Ravichandran as Serial Silima were lively. Narada, as in all dramatic and cinematic representations of him, was portrayed as a clown.
Questions about Karma and sin plague even the staunchest of believers. One may attend a hundred religious discourses, and yet when disaster strikes, the first question we ask ourselves is, “Why me?” Questions of philosophy, therefore, cannot be addressed in a two-hour play, unless that is the aim. The court scene, with questions and answers in quick fire succession, is hardly the way to discuss profound philosophical concepts. Precious time is wasted in going into details about how Sundaramurthy computerises Yamaloka, a frivolous exercise that robs the play of seriousness.
The showing of credits at the start of the play, as in films, was novel and good. The jokes about even Gods being unaware of when the serial ‘Kolangal’ would end, and the ones about politicians created ripples among the audience. The attempt at special effects (Sivaji Chaturvedi) was commendable. A lot of effort had gone into the sets (Padma Stage Kannan) and costumes.
Had the play been written with more focus, it would have provided fodder for thought. Strange, considering that playwright Chandramohan, has in the past, scripted good plays like ‘Netra Darisanam.’ ‘IPL Kudumbam’ offers us no darisanam into any philosophical question.