Dummies certainly raised the bar with ‘Engirundho Vandan.’
Usually a lot of thought goes into selecting a name or title for a film, play or a production house. Strangely, you have here a drama group that calls itself ‘Dummies,’ but paradoxically it raises the bar every time it presents a play. Its ‘Engirundho Vandan,’ under the auspices of Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, T.Nagar, was an experience.
Staged recently to a full house, it had several poignant moments that were so engrossing that one did not realise the absence of an intermission.
The performances of all the actors were natural, irrespective of the sizes of their roles. Sreevathson, responsible for the story, dialogue and direction, played Saket Ram, an NRI from U.S., who is on a visit to Tamil Nadu in search of his family’s ‘kula deivam’ temple (a temple worshipped by ancestors of a family) as ordered by his mother.
In one of his visits to a village, he is mesmerised by a divine voice chanting verses in praise of Lord Siva. The voice is Vaitheeswaran’s (Giridharan), a descendant of the ‘baanars’ (singers attached to a Siva temple).
Vaitheeswaran, a pragmatist to the core, lives only for the moment. His chores include singing for the presiding deity of Vaitheeswaran Koil, where he lives. The temple priest (V.P.S. Sriraman) affectionately gives him prasadam, which is his daily food.
Vaitheeswaran cures people with ailments by singing verses in praise of Paramasivan and applying vibhuthi on their foreheads. Astounded, Saket wants to showcase this gift and use it to help more people. He also makes it clear that he is not doing it for money.
The thought-provoking conversations among the three in the first few scenes, take the audience through a philosophical journey that is anything but boring.Amusing moments
Saket meets the secretary of a leading Sabha and begs him for an opportunity to show Vaitheeswaran’s prowess. Sridhar, as the Sabha secretary, provides some amusing moments but is curt and refuses to budge. Saket then goes to meet noted classical singer Bhargavi Natrajan (Suchithra Ravi), but here too his hope is dashed…till he comes to know, through the singer’s daughter, about Bhargavi’s illness brought on by the death of her husband.
Saket brings Vaitheeswaran to Bhargavi’s house, where he sings the famous verse, ‘Mandiramaavadhu neeru,’ and applies vibhuthi (sacred ash) on the singer’s forehead that affects her positively. She then picks up the verse from where he leaves off and sings it with energy and bhavam. Mahathi, who sang for Bhargavi, did a splendid job.
Moved, Bhargavi promises to make Vaitheeswaran popular. But Vaitheeswaran quietly slips out and goes back to his village and refuses to change his decision. Sreevathson scored with his dialogue. Giridharan, who composed the music for the verses in praise of Lord Siva, sang well and with emotion. He also turned out a neat performance.
V.P.S. Sriraman and Suchithra Ravi added to the play’s emotional content. Krishnamurthy’s set design. of a village home overlooking the temple, was impressive. The play is a must for theatre-goers, as its impact will make it worth their while.